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Col. James G. Gibbes. 

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THE Library of 

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Copies Receiverf 

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COPY B. ' 

"Who Burnt Columbia?" 

An article, written by me soon after the war, on the 
burning of Columbia, for the Philadelphia Times, 
having been recently republished, has caused such a 
number of requests to me to prepare a full and com- 
plete account of all the investigations and reports made 
about the matter, that I have decided to compile and 
publish the testimony that has been collected from 
reliable and undoubted sources. "Who Burnt Colum- 
bia," has never been a question in the mind of any 
person who was here. But the facts have not been 
generally made known. 

While the old citizens know beyond a shadow of a 
doubt that the city was burnt wantonly by Sherman's 
Army, it has been the general belief that no orders for 
its destruction had been given, but that it was fully 
understood tnat the soldiers were to be allowed to do 
as they pleased, and that they were to be left under no 
restraint. A committee of the most respectable citizens 
of the place, with Hon. Chancellor J. P. Carroll, as 
chairman, investigated the matter fully, and showed by 
the sworn affidavits of sixty of her best citizens, what 
were the true facts. 

Wm. Gilmore Sims, Dr. D. H. Trezevant, E. J. 
Scott, J. Wood Davidson, and many others have es- 
tablished the facts beyond a shadow of a doubt. Their 
testimony I have condensed as much as possible and 
with it give the testimony of Gen. Sherman, Gen. 
Howard, and other officers of the United States Army, 
and believe, after an impartial review of the whole, that 
no one will be left with any doubt as to who burnt 
Columbia. JAS. G. GIBBES. 


A few years after the war Alex. McClure of the Philadelphia 
Times devoted the columns of his paper to the publication of 
matter of interest connected with the great struggle. It was 
at his request that I wrote the account of the Burning of Co- 
lumbia, which is here republished, and in compliance with the 
request of many friends I add to it the official report of a com- 
mittee of citizens of Columbia, who were appointed to investigate 
and report on the facts connected therewith. This article was 
published in the Philadelphia Times, September 20, 1880. 

I also add important testimony taken from the accounts of a 
number of writers, all persons known for high character and 
undoubted veracity : Wm, Gilmore Simras, the distinguished 
author; Dr. D, H. Trezevant, one of the oldest and best known 
citizens and physicians; Edward J. Scott, and many others. I 
also add statements of Gen. Sherman himself, taken from his own 
memoirs ; besides statements and admissions of Gen. Howard, 
2nd in command, Gen. Stone, Col. Palmer, Gen. W. B. Hazen, 
Capt. Conyngham, Col. Nichols, and Maj. Gen. Hallack. 


When Gen. Sherman reported that Columbia was either 
burned by Gen. Hampton or by accident, caused by the burn- 
ing of cotton in the streets by the citizens, he presented the 
people of the North so-called facts ; but over forty thousand 
eye-witnesses of the scene — one half of them his own soldiers 
— knew the facts to be very different indeed. As a witness of 
what took place on that fearful night, and with most of the 
scenes as vividly before me as if they had occurred but yester- 
day, I propose to give an account of it as it occurred. It was 
known about the loth of February, 1865, that Sherman's army 
had passed across the Charleston and Savannah Railroad to- 
ward Branchville, a point equi-distant from Charleston, Au- 
gusta and Columbia, being sixty to sixty-five miles from each. 


Opinion was divided as to its probable route from there. It 
was not believed that it would pass through Columbia until 
about Wednesday, February 15, and even then it was gener- 
ally believed that it would not cross the Congaree River, but 
proceed up Broad River. On Thurs day, however, considerable 
skirmishing took place between the advance of the army and a 
few cavalry under Gen. Butler, between Congaree Creek and 
old Granby Point, three to five miles below Columbia. A few 
companies of cavalry composed the entire Confederate force at 
or near Columbia, but not sufficient to oppose the approach 
of the large army of Sherman. At this time I have no records or 
reports by which I could give the relative strength of the par- 
ties, but it was generally believed that Sherman had sixty 
thousand men, that one division had gone farther west, not far 
from Augusta, and that over forty thousand men were in the 
two divisions marching on Columbia. About twenty thousand, 
as well as I could estimate, crossed Saluda and Broad rivers 
and entered Columbia ; another division, equally large, passed 
up Broad River, crossing thirty or forty miles above. 


It should be noted that Columbia is situated on the east bank 
or side of Congaree river, which is formed by the junction of 
Saluda ard Broad rivers, which unite just above the corpo- 
rate limits of the city. As I stated, it became evident on 
Thursday that the army would enter Columbia, and as there 
were no troops to defend it steps were at once taken to remove 
government stores and such things of value as were possible. 
There were usually three banks located at Columbia, but on 
account of its being looked on as peculiarly safe from attack 
all of the banks of Charleston, and I believe all of those of the 
interior, with the exception, perhaps, of one, had removed to 
the city, making either fourteen or fifteen (I do not remember 
which) then in the place. Most of these banks, in addition to 
their ordinary assets, were crowded with immense special de- 
posits in the way of boxes of silver plate, valuable papers, title 
deeds, bonds, etc., belonging to their customers and friends, 
many of whom were refugees from their homes and had en- 


trusted their all to the banks for safe keeping. This fact will 
account for the immense losses that occurred from the fire and 
the pillage that preceded it, as these deposits were entirely too 
bulky to be removed at the last moment, when norses or 
vehicles of any kind could not be had at any price. On 
Thursday the railroad trains were moving everything that 
could be put on them — the Charlotte and Greenville roads 
sending off trains as fast as they could be loaded. The South 
Carolina or Charleston road had been cut below Columbia by 
the advance of Sherman, atid was of no service in assisting in 
the exodus. The Confederate treasury department, large 
amounts of military and ammunition and commissary 
stores were removed. In addition to the railroads every horse, 
mule and ox was made available in removing families and 
valuables; but even then transportationVas so limited that the 
banks were only able to remove their money and their books, 
leaving hundreds ot tons of valuable deposits still in their 


Late on Thursday night I was with Gen. Beauregard, at his 
quarters at the United States Hotel, and found all arrange- 
ments complete for the evacuation of the city early Friday 
morning. In accordance with orders received, Gen. Beaure- 
gard turned over the command of the department to Gen. 
Hampton, whose whole command, if I am not mistaken, did 
not exceed eight hundred men. Capt. VVitherspoon, chief 
commissary, gave me the keys of the different Confederate 
storehouses, and requested me to open them the first thing on 
Friday morning, and to distribute the stores among tlie citi- 
zens. While engaged at this about daylight on Friday morn- 
ing, a terrible explosion was heard, which was afterwards 
found to have occurred in the depot of the South Carolina 
Railroad, from some unknown cause, killing several persons 
who were in the building at the time. Soon after this Gen. 
Sherman opened fire on the city from a battery that he erected 
in the night on a commanding hill just above the Congaree 
bridge, one mile west of the Capitol. This fire on the city was 


begun without any notice and when no defence was intended 
or possible. Forcunately, no casualties occurred from it. Five 
shot struck the west wing of the Capitol, two of them break- 
ing and shattering the pilasters and cornice around one of the 
windows. A lew shot also struck and passed through the old 
State House, a wooden building. A piece of shell struck the 
residence of my father, on Plain street, and another piece fell 
into a buggy passing — the last vehicle, I believe, to leave the 
city — fortunately v;ithout injuring its occupant. One shot 
passed through the house of Capt. Matthews, on Arsenal Hill, 
shattering a large looking-glass while a young lady was stand- 
ing before it. During Thursday night a picket guard, sta- 
tioned at the long bridge over the Congaree, set fire to it, 
against orders, and it was entirely destroyed. That prevented 
Sherman from entering the city directly, but he passed up, 
crossed Saluda river near the Saluda factory— after firing it — 
then crossed Broad river, three miles above Columbia on a 
pontoon bridge. I find myself giving details somewhat foreign 
to the subject of the burning, but even at the risk of being 
tedious I find it necessary. 

As soon as it was known that Sherman or a part of his army 
had crossed the river, the mayor, Dr. Goodwyn, and two or 
three of the aldermen, among whom, I believe, were Mr. John 
McKinzie, John Stork and O. Z. Bates, who are still residents 
of Columbia, went out to meet them. 'Dr. Goodwyn informed 
Col. Stone, who was in command of the advance, that the city 
was in no condition to make any defence and that he had come 
out for the purpose of making a formal surrender of it. After 
some conversation Col. Stone said : "Mr. Mayor, you can say 
to your people that they have nothing to be afraid of ; that 
they are as safe as if there was not a Yankee within a thous- 
and miles of them." After this assurance the mayor returned 
to the city. Col Stone afterwards, in reply to" a question of 
Mr. Edward T. Scott, as to how private p'-operty would be 
protected, said, "'Fully! We are not savages;'' but later in the 
day. when asked by Mr. Scott for a guard to protect the Com- 
mercial Bank, he turned off, merely saying, "he had no time." 
This occurred about lo o'clock A- M., Friday, February 17. , 


About II o'clock the army entered the city, marching down 
Main or Richardson street. On reaching the Courthouse and 
market the troops seemed to be all simultaneously disbanded 
and released from any restraint. The streets were soon all 
crowded with soldiers, but at first all seemed quiet and well 
disposed. About i o'clock an alarm of fire was given, and the 
fire bells rang. The writer hurried to the place of alarm and 
found about sixty bales of cotton had been rolled into the 
centre of Richardson street, in front of the store of O. Z, Bates, 
and was on fire. As I approached it I found a few men (citi- 
zens) had run out the Independent Engine from its house, near 
the market, not over one hundred yards from the burning 
cotton, and began playing on the fire. They soon extinguished 
it and continued playing on the smoking bales till all sign of 
fire was over. Not less than one thousand Federal soldiers 
were on the sidewalks and street looking on, but took no part 
at the fire until just as it was about all controlled, when a 
drunken soldier took his musket and plunged the bayonet into 
the hose pipe. Instantly a number of others joined in and 
with their bayonets soon cut the entire hose to pieces. The 
men working the engine remonstrated, but with no avail. 
They then ran the engine back into the enginehouse. 
Fortunately the fire wa - all over before this destruction of the 
hose, or the town might have been fired from it. Before 2 
o'clock P. M. all sign of the fire was over. 


During the afternoon thirty bales of cotton, moved out into 
the street from his stable by Mr. J. H. Kinard, at the corner 
of Plain street, was burned ; also, a few bales in Cottontown, 
not far from Mr. R. O'Neale's. These fires, however, were 
small affairs, and had no more to do with the burning of the 
city than they had with that of Chicago. About 3 P. M. large 
columns of smoke were seen east of the city, two to five miles 
ofi^, which turned out to be the residences of Gen. Hampton, 
Dr. Wallace, George A. Trenholm, the cotton and card mill 
of the writer, and the houses of a number of other parties. 
About 2 to 3 P. M. the soldiers began breaking into the stores 


and banks, and here the plunder and destruction of valuable 
property was beyond description. Thousands of boxes of val- 
uables were stored in the bank vaults I was passing the Bank 
of Charleston and the Commercial Bank of Columbia and found 
a squad of about fifty soldiers breaking them open and loading 
themselves with silver to the extent of their ability to carry. 
While looking on at this scene, a young man of Columbia came 
up with a Federal uniform coat on and with a large three-bushel 
bag, which he held open on the pavement as the .soldiers came 
out with their loads. One of them told him to hold his bag 
open, mistaking him for one of his own comrades. Our dis- 
guised friend did so readily, and his bag was soon filled with 
all he could carry. Aiter the eva.uation this gentleman turned 
over to me, as the mayor of the city, this very silver, which I 
had the pleasure of restoring to the daughter of its former 
owner, (James L. Petigru,) Mrs. King, afterward Mrs. C. C. 

Every store in the city was sacked, as were the banks, but I 
knew of no serious attacks on residences that were occupied, 
except those in the outskirts of the city. The soldiers were 
generally civil and pleasant spoken, but there was a marked 
air of absence from all restraint and control, and the soldiers 
evidently knew that it was a general holiday, and that they 
were able to do as they pleased. About 7 P. M. signal rockets 
were thrown up from three several points, all in the northwest 
part of the city, in what was known as Cottoutown. Very 
soon it was known what the signal reckets meant. The city 
was fired in several places at the same time. Just then a high 
wind sprung up, blowing from the northwest. This sent the 
flames with irresistible violence, sweeping all before it. The 
city was laid off in squares of four acres each, with streets one 
hundred feet wide. All of the stores were on one street — 
Richardson or Main street, as it was called. This street was 
closely built up for about one and a half miles. The buildings 
on the other streets were not so close, as most of the residences 
had large gardens and yards attached. Frequently the dis- 
tance from one house to the next was too great for the flames 
to lap over and ignite the next ; but, alas, that mattered not — 


thousands of willing hands were ready to destroy what the 
elements were about to spare. Soldiers were seen on every 
side with every appliance for aiding the conflagration. Some 
had buckets of kerosene or turpentine, or other inflammable 
materials, and wherever a house was about to escape the fury 
of the burning storm it was immediately fired and made to 
share the general fate. With the exception of one sn\all cot- 
tage house, occupied by Mr. Huchett, of Charleston, at the 
head of Main street, not a building was left on that street ; 
everything on it was burned for one and a half miles and in a 
belt from a quarter to a half mile wide. Eighty-four squares, 
containing three hundred and sixty-six acres, and thirteen 
hundred bouses were destroyed. 


The fire continued throughout the night, the streets being 
crowded all the time with soldiers, but no officers were to be 
seen. I did see Gen. Sherman riding leisurely through the 
streets smoking a cigar, but he gave no orders and seemed to 
take little interest in what was going on. No one could wit- 
ness the scene without the firm conviction that the burning of 
the city was a prearranged affair, or else that the soldiers were 
given to understand that they bad free license to do as they 
pleased and that there would be no restraint over them. I 
spent almost the entire night in the streets and witnessed 
many houses fired by the soldiers, and I never saw (nor did I 
ever see any one who did) a single instance in which any as- 
sistance was rendered by the soldiers to save property from 
flames. It was a most fearful night — sublime in its grand 
awfulness. The illumination was more brilliaat than I am 
able to describe. It seemed that the most minute things could 
be seen with wonderful distinctness at inconceivable distances. 
Not only the glare of the flames, but the millions of sparks 
and cinders that filled the air all helped to make an illumina- 
tion that far surpassed the brightness of day. I am satisfied 
that, looking from the upper part of my house, I saw not less 
than eight hundred to one thousand men engaged in probing 
the ground with their bayonets or iron ramrods, searching 


for buried treasures. In all directions it seemed equally bright. 
The storm of fire — I can call it nothing else — raged with una- 
bated fury until daylight or a little later, when my attention 
was drawn to a number of cavalry, in squads of three or four 
together, galloping through the streets sounding their bugles 
and calling on the soldiers to fall into ranks. This was the 
first sign of any attempt at discipline or the issuing of any 
orders to the rank and file. I understood immediately that 
the worst was over, and so it was. The wind was still 
blowing severely, but I knew that, if unaided, the flames 
would soon die out. 

At that time the track of fire was just in the rear of my own 
dwelling and approaching it so rapidly that all who were with 
me had abandoned it, and I had prepared to leave also, when 
I noticed the orders for falling into ranks. So satisfied was I 
that we were near the end that I returned to my house, and 
with the aid of a few of my servants succeeded in smothering 
the flames ihat were just starting in one of the outhouses, and 
saved the whole In less than thirty minutes after the orders 
were given every straggler was in ranks and the destruction 
virtually over. Nowhere was the discipline of Sherman's 
army more conspicuous than in the quick, prompt and imme- 
diate recognition of their orders to stop from any further de- 
struction of the city. It seemed like magic. All was as quiet 
and as orderly as if the men were on dress parade 
where, but a moment before, it seemed as if to ruin and 
destroy was the only thing thought of The ordinary popula- 
tion of Columbia did not exceed ten thousand, but owing to 
the large number of refugees from the coast there was at the 
time of the fire not less than twenty thousand persons, and of 
those not over five hundred men. I should have stated that 
General Hampton moved out with the few cavalry he had just 
as the Federal troops were entering the city. On Saturday 
morning squads of men were detailed for the destruction of 
what public property and buildings had escaped the night be- 
fore. The gas works were then destroyed, the powder factory 
and several other public buildings. None were burned, but 
they were knocked to pieces or blown up. 



While this destruction was going on the Mayor, Dr. Good- 
wyn, came to me, broken down with fatigue and overwork. 
He said that he came to get me to aid and assist him. Finding 
this was the wish of the people generally, I consented and im- 
mediately proceeded to take steps to meet the difHculties we 
were in. The situation was serious. The usual population of 
the city was more than doubled by the refugees and visitors 
who were there, and these, too, almost entirely helpless women 
and children; thirteen hundred houses destroyed, which in 
number, was perhaps one-half of the city, but which from the 
location and character was really more than three-fourths of it. 
The city was greatly cro?i'ded before; now it would be impos- 
sible to find shelter for one-tenth of the homeless. The rail- 
roads were destroyed (that was done as soon as the city was 
occupied) there were no horses or conveyances of any kind to 
transport the people to a place of shelter, and ever}^ store and 
shop in the city destroyed, without a single exception. The 
entire stock of provisions on hand would scarcely support the 
people two days ; in fact, there were no provisions at all, save 
the little in private families, and few of these had sufl5cient for 
more than two or three days. The country for miles around 
the city had been so thoroughly cleaned up that nothing what- 
ever could be got from that quarter. The prospect of material 
aid from Gen. Sherman did not seem very bright. I thought 
that we had little to expect from one who, if he did not delib- 
•erately destroy the city by positive orders, did most certainly 
allow it to be done without making the slightest attempt or 
■effort to save it. I would here repeat, in the strongest language 
possible, that during the whole of that terrible night not a sin- 
gle instance was known of a United States officer or soldier 
making an effort to stop the conflagration. I was glad to find, 
however, that I was mistaken. On Sunday I received a noti- 
fication from the provost marshal, I think, that the chief com- 
missary had been ordered by Gen. Sherman to turn over five 
hundred head of cattle for the use of the citizens. This was 
all that saved us from actual starvation — the cattle, owing to 
their peculiar condition (as I will explain hereafter) being 


equivalent to more than double that number of ordinary beef 

Among the incidents that passed under my own observation 
were some that it would not be out of place here to relate. 
Some things occurred that, notwithstanding the fearful condi- 
tion of things, had their ludicrous side. As soon as the city 
was occupied on Friday guards were detailed and stationed at a 
number of the most prominent houses, I suppose with a view 
of giving their occupants a sort of feeling of guaranteed secu- 
rity. At the corner opposite my house lived a widow lady, 
Mrs. Herbamont ; she had considerable silver plate and a lot of 
choice old wine that was quite valuable. She gave me her 
silver to try and save for her, which I did by throwing it down 
my well ; but her wine she had buried in her garden, and felt 
quite secure of it. As soon as a guard was sent to her house 
she said to him : "Now, my good man, keep a good lookout 
and do not let any soldiers rob me. I have over a hundred 
bottles of fine oM sherry wine buried under that fig tree in the 
garden, and you keep a good lookout for me and I will give 
you a bottle of it before you go." The consequence was just 
what might have been expected. The guard immediately 
hailed a squad from the street and piloting them to the fig 
tree unearthed the bottles, drank a few to the health and pros- 
perity of Mrs. H , took off what they could carry and broke 

up the remainder. 

"what time is it^ " 

Dr. Templeton, a prominent physician of the city, was walk- 
ing in the street just after the destruction of his house, when 
he was accosted politely by a soldier and asked what time of 
night it was. Pulling out his watch to look, the soldier jerked 
it from him and walked oflf. Dr. Templeton coolly said : "Hold 
on, my good fellow, here is the key ; it is not a bit of use to 
me without the watch." The soldier said : "All right, pass 
it along." The Doctor had not gone fifty yards before he was 
asked the time by another soldier. "Ah, my friend," said he, 
"you are just a little too late, one of your comrades was ahead 
of you." 


I have mentioned the large number of soldiers who were en- 
gaged in probing the ground all over the city hunting for 
valuables that were buried. Immense quantities of silver, 
jewelry, money and other valuables were buried for safety, 
but the skill exhibited by the soldiers in finding it was truly 
wonderful. Bayonets and iron ramrods were used to probe 
the ground in all directions, and many a treasure was found 
and appropriated that its owner had thought safe and secure. 
A Mr. Mordecai, of Charleston, a refugee, who had been about 
a year in Columbia, had an old darkey that he loved to brag 
about as the only honest negro he had ever known. He would 
trust Peter with everything he had in the world. He had a 
large quantity of old family plate, (silver) so he buried it in 
his cellar — he. and old Peter — not even letting his wife or chil- 
dren know where it was. As soon as the army marched into 
the city old Peter met the head of the column at the corner 
near his master's house, and calling four or five soldiers to go 
with him, marched straight to the cellar and showed them 
where to dig up the silver. In telling about it afterward, Mr. 
Mordecai seemed to be as much hurt by his being deceived by 
old Peter as he was by the loss of the silver. 

On the morning alter the fire I was passing the house of Dr. 
P. M. Cohen, a well-known druggist of Charleston, when I saw 
his grandchild, a little girl of four or five years of age, playing 
before his door with a small pet lap-dog. Two soldiers were 
passing, when one of them, for nothing but innate devilment, 
took the butt end of his musket and knocked out the brains of 
the little dog. The child began to cry piteously, when the 
other soldier, who was a kindhearted man, stopped and began 
to pet the little child, and taking out his knife he went to 
work with an old cigar box that was lying near and soon had 
a neat little cofEn constructed and the child interested in the 
contemplated funeral. Just as he was about to begin to dig a 
grave to put the dog in under a large rose bush in the front 
garden, Dr. Cohen came out greatly excited and did all in his 
power to induce the soldier to dig the grave elsewhere, but all 
to no purpose. Fortunately, however, the interment was com- 
pleted without the discovery of the Doctor's silver, which it 


seems he had buried under the same bush, but luckily on the 
other side. Few were as fortunate. 


In passing where had been the house of Mr. James K. Fri- 
day, I saw two soldiers just taking up a large bag from a 
hole where it had been buried ; they took from it a large ice 
cream churn filled with silver, which. Mr. Friday had endeav- 
ored to save in that way. I immediately walked up to the 
soldiers and told them that it belonged to a gentleman whose 
house was burning with all he had, and for God's sake to spare 
his silver. They asked me what I would give them for it. I 
had one $20 gold piece, all the money I owned of the kind. I 
took it out (at seme risk) and offered them that, which they 
agreed to take for the silver if I would throw in a fine pocket 
knife which they saw I had. This I agreed to with the condi- 
tion that they would take the churn, bag and contents to my 
house — which was quite near — as otherwise I might never 
have saved it. This they did in good faith, and a few days 
after I had the satisfaction of giving Mr. Friday a welcome 
surprise, as he had thought his silver had departed forever. 
About the time the soldiers entered the city an old colored 
woman, the nurse of my children, came to me and said : 
"Massa, if you got any money, gib it to me ; dem Yankees 
neber git it den." With the exception of the aforementioned 
gold piece, I had but $30 in specie, and that in silver, so I 
gave that to old Aunt Hannah, more to please her than from 
any other idea. On Monday morning, just after the evacua- 
tion of the city, old Hannah came to me with the silver, in 
high glee, but looking very haggard and worn. Some of my 
other servants told me that the old woman had not had a mo- 
ment's rest while the Yankees were in the city ; that she put 
the silver in her bed and that she stood guard over it day and 
night, and had broken the head of one soldier with a pair of 
tongs who undertook to enter her room, and that he would 
have killed her had his comrades not interferred — thinking it 
a good joke, her attack on him. When last in Columbia, 


twelve months ago, I met old Hannah and heard her lecture 
on "dem good ole times." 

Karly on Saturday morning, Mr. Jacob Lyons, the president 
of the gas company, came to me with the information that he 
had just been told that the gas works, which had not been 
burned the night before, were to be blown up, and urged me 
to see Gen. Sherman and try to save them. I at once went to 
the house where Gen. Sherman was quartered, but was re- 
fused admittance. I think, however, one of his staff, a Capt. 
Merritt, advised me to see Gen. Howard. So I went to him 
and urged him to give me an order for the protection of the 
gas works. Gen. Howard was very polite, but gave me little 
encouragement. Finally he promised to see Gen. Sherman 
himself on the subject, but confessed that my request would 
be hardly granted. He was very pleasant, and told me that, 
though what public buildings were left would be destroyed, he 
would have no hesitation in sparing anything that would con- 
duce to the actual necessities of the people. That a flour mill or 
grist mill might be saved. I immediately urged him to give 
me an order for the protection of the ;nillsthat I thought of — 
one that of Dr. Geiger and the other of Fed W. Green ; the 
latter, howover, had already been burned, but I succeeded in 
saving the venerable old establishment of Dr. Geiger, known 
in the early days of Columbia as Young's Mill. About two 
hours after I left Gen. Howard the gas works were destroyed. 


I,ate on Sunday night Dr. Goodwyn informed me that the 
cattle promised us would be turned over early the next morn- 
ing, so I got my brother, Dr. R. W. Gibbes, to go to the com- 
missary early in the morning and attend to having them de- 
livered in the enclosure of the South Carolina College, that 
being the only place where they could be kept together, as 
there were twenty acres there enclosed by a brick wall. Know- 
ing that when the army left there would likely be stragglers and 
plunderers in the rear who would treat us worse than the army 
did, I thought I would apply to Sherman for a few arms for 
our protection. I was^ however, again unable to see him, so I 


tried my old friend, Gen. Howard, again. Never shall I forget 
the astonished look he gave me when I explained that I 
wanted arms. However, I urged it so strongly on him that 
he at last gave me an order for one hundred muskets. I do 
not remember at this time on whom the order was, but I found 
it necessary to take it to Gen. Blair. He was much surprised, 
but filled the order, taking care, however, to give me a lot of 
worthless guns, scarcely one of which could be used. Nothing 
having been said about ammunition Gen. Blair did not care to 
furnish that, but finally gave me ten rounds or one thousand 
cartridges, which, perhaps, did not fit over a half dozen of the 
guns. These old muskets, however, did faithful service in 
guarding our city, and perhaps some of them are still in the 
city guardhouse. 

About 6 A. M. on Monday morning a rumor got out that 
Gen. Hampton had attacked the advance of Sherman's army 
at Killian's mills, ten miles north of Columbia. That caused 
the hurried departure of the main body earlier than was in- 
tended, and no doubt was the reason of many doomed estab- 
lishments being spared. As soon as the army departed, which 
was by 8 o'clock, my brother came and informed me he had 
five lundred and sixty head of cattle in the college enclosure, 
but that they were nothing but the refuse and broken-down 
portion, such as were not able to be driven any further ; that 
no food could be procured for them, not even water, as the 
water- works were destroyed and it was impossible to drive them 
to the river. A meeting of some of the citizens was held and 
it was decided to butcher the cattle as fast as it could be done. 
One hundred barrels of salt were stored in the basement of the 
capitol. This embraced everything in the way of supplies 
that could be relied on to feed twenty thousand people. 
Twenty or thirty volunteers at once proceeded to butcher the 
cattle ; and even killing them as rapidly as possible one hun- 
dred and sixty of the number died before t hey could be killed. 
During the privations of the war we had all got pretty well 
used to poor and tough beef, but I venture to say that such a 
lot of beef cattle as were given us by Gen. Sherman were 
never seen together before. An old shed at the corner of Plain 



and Market streets, that had escaped the flames, was turned 
into a market or ration house, and for weeks that was the grand 
gathering place for the rich and poor. Here rations of tough 
beef and salt were given out. Those who were able to pay 
paid ; those who could not were supplied gratuitously ; but all 
were allowanced, and that to what was barely sufl&cient to 
feed their families, every one having to testify as to the num- 
ber of mouths he had to fill. 


What at first seemed to be a great misfortune — the character 
of the meat — actually turned out to be a great blessing. Had 
it been good, fat meat, it would have been, comparatively, a 
drop in the bucket toward supplying our necessities, but, tor- 
tunately, its quality compensated for its quantity, and I am 
certain that the survivors of that time will always preserve a 
lively recollection of the tough, blue sinews that like India 
rubber, the more you chewed it the larger it got. It was the 
most satisfying meat I ever saw — a little went a long way. 
Even with this wonderful beef and its enduring qualities it 
could not last 20,000 people long. I might here mention a 
fact, strictly true, that several hundred persons lived for fully 
two weeks after the evacuation solely and entirely on the loose 
corn picked up from the ground where the horses of the Yankee 
army were fed, and that, too, in a sprouting condition, the 
heavy rains having rotted it. Much privation and suffering 
ensued, and much more would had it not been for the noble 
conduct of Augusta as soon as our condition was known. The 
citizens of Augusta loaded six wagons with bacon, meal and 
flour and sent them over to us — making a present not only of 
the supplies, but also of the mules and wagons. This was a God- 
send to us. We found one section of country, Fort Motte,, 
about forty miles from us, where some corn could be had, so 
for weeks these wagons were run backward and forward, haul- 
ing from that neighborhood. The crowd at Columbia in the 
meantime scattered as rapidly as possible, many going to Au- 
gusta, Newberry and other neighboring towns — walking being 
the only means of transportation. Some few ladies and children 


got to ride occasionally in wagons. It was, however, fully 
three n\onths before permanent relief was obtained from our 

The Mother Superior of the convent had formerly educated 
Gen. Sherman's daughter, and it seems that she managed to 
hold some communication with hinj when he was in Savannah, 
and it was understood in Columbia that she had been informed 
by him, that if he did enter Columbia, that she had nothing to 
fear, that she would be protected. In consequence of this a 
number of persons went to the convent for safety and others 
sent their valuables there. The convent was burned early on 
Friday night. On Saturday morning the Mother Superior 
went to Sherman complaining, when he told her to choose any 
house in the place that had escaped and he would donate it to 
her. She at once moved to the large mansion of Gen. Preston, 
where Gen. Logan had his quarters. Gen. Sherman, as 
I afterward learned, actually executed titles to the property 
and gave them to her. She afterward surrendered them with 
the property to Gen. Preston. This incident was the means 
of saving that handsome edifice — now the residence of W. E. 
Dodge — as it would have been destroyed, as I was told by 
Gen. Logan, who also told me that it should be blown up, and 
that he only wished he had its owner there "to hang him as 
high as Haman." 


Early in the evening of Friday a Mrs. Boozer, who was 
living in a house belonging to me adjoining the Baptist church, 
came to me in great excitement and told me the city was to 
be burned. I told her no, that she need not be alarmed, and 
mentioned what Gen. Sherman had told Dr. Goodwyn. She 
said no, that she knew it would be burned. Her husband was 
a physician and at one time had charge of the hospital where 
some of the Federal officers (prisoners) had been located. Mrs. 
Boozer had shown kindness to some of them by furnishing 
them delicacies, etc., and as soon as the army entered Columbia 
two officers who had formally been there as prisoners and had 
been recipients of her kindness hunted her up and privately 


informed her of the intention to fire the city. Even with this 
assurance I did not believe it, relying on the word of Gen. 
Sherman. These two oflScers, however, returned to Mrs. 
Boozer when the fire began and remained with her till the 
house was destroyed, and assisted her to move her young 
children to the asylum as a place of safet;^ This incident I 
meation to show that the destruction of Columbia was certainly 
pre-arranged. Mrs. Boozer is still living in Columbia and may 
be able to give the names of the officers alluded to. 

About 2 o'clock on Friday night I went to the residence of 
my father, Dr. R. W. Gibbes, Sr. I found that his house, a 
large fire-proof one, had escaped, the fire having passed it ; but 
on my entering it I found fifteen or twenty soldiers engaged in 
piling up furniture in the drawing room and were using the 
lace curtains to fire it from the gaslights. Every effort to in- 
duce them to desist was unavailing. A young man of an Iowa 
regiment had been placed at the house as a guard that morn- 
ing. He had accidently fallen down the stone steps in front 
of the house and sprained his ankle. My father had bandaged 
it up for him and gave him some soothing lotion that relieved 
his pain, and lent him a pair of crutches that had been left in 
the house by my brother, Capt. Gibbes, who had been wounded 
not long before. This guard was apparently very grateful 
for the kindness shown him, and certainly did beg and urge 
his comrades not to burn the house ; but they were not to be 
stayed, so he then urged my father to try and save some of his 
valuables. This he was urging when I entered the house. I 
suggested to my father to try and save a portion of his collec- 
tion of coin. He had one of the largest private collections, 
perhaps, in the world of old and ancient coin, consisting of 
several thousand specimens of gold, silver and copper. I got 
the cover of the piano and we emptied the gold and silver coin 
on that, and made a bundle of it, and, at the suggestion of the 
guard, tied it around his neck as he stood by on his crutches. 
The copper coins were too heavy and bulky to try to move, so 
we abandoned them. By this time the house had been fired 
from the furniture piled up in the drawing room. So my 
father and I each took some articles of value in our hands and 


followed the guard, who hobbled off into the street on his 
crutches, with the bag of coin around his neck. On reaching 
the corner he suddenly darted off among the crowd of soldiers 
that filled the street, and made such good time that neither he 
nor the coin have since been seen. 


N-.t less than one hundred and fifty ladies and children col- 
lected at ray bouse during the night of the fire. As their 
residences were destroyed they came to my house for shelter. 
Suddenly one of the young ladies, the daughter of J. Daniel 
Pope, remembered that in the hurry of leaving their burning 
house they nad forgotten to bring off their silver and jewelry 
that had been hideu in a moss matress in one of the upper 
rooms It seemed a forlorn hope, but I determined to try and 
save it, the house not being very far distant. I hurried there 
and got into the house, which was burning rapidly ; but in 
company with Summer, a faithful negro, who stuck to me, 
we got the mattress, but finding the stairway about to fall we 
cut the ticking open and took out what was in it, barely es- 
caping before ihe bouse fell in. I afterward found that every 
article had been saved except one old watch. 

There was one incident that I will mention, as it showed the 
forethought of a sharp woman who, in the time of trouble, 
looked ahead. There was a family of the name of Feaster liv- 
ing in a bouse just m the rear of the Courthouse that belonged 
to Col. Bauskett. Mr. Feaster was a very worthy, clever man, 
employed in the Confederate commissary storehouses, but he 
was principally known as the fourth husband of a quite noted 
woman, whom he married as Mrs. Boozer, formerly Mrs. Bur- 
ton, formerly Mrs. Somebody else — a Philadelphia woman by 
birth. Mrs. Feaster had a daughter who had been adopted by 
her third husband, who had provided handsomely for her on 
condition that she took his name. So she was known as Miss 
Mary Boozer, and was considered one of the most beautiful 
girls ever seen in the State. The family were in but moderate 
circumstances, having lived very extravagantly. Mrs. Feaster 
was known as a very smart woman and not over-scrupulous. 


While the citj' was on fire and the hous^e she occupied was 
burning, Gen. Sherman passed by. She immediately made 
herself known to him as a Union woman and one who had 
done a great deal to assist Federal prisoners, and aided some to 
escape. She called his attention not only to her house, then 
burning, but showed him a large storehouse at the opposite 
corner, then burning, which she told him was her husband's, 
and that it had been filled with flour, bacon, tobacco and cot- 
ton, the truth being it was a government storehouse in which 
her husband was employed. 


On Monday, when the army moved out, she managed to get 
Gen. Sherman to furnish her with two horses, which she hitched 
to her carriage, an old rouad-bodied affair, familiar to all the 
old residents, and started in company with the army. In the 
outskirts of the city, when passing the residence of Mrs. El- 
more, she concluded a fair exchange was no robbery, so she 
left her old equipage and took in its place a fine carriage of 
Mrs. Elmore's. It was said that when passing Society Hill 
she, by mistake, loaded up and took off the family silver of the 
Witherspoons, a prominent family, at whose house she stopped, 
and who had put their silver in her room for safety. In Decem- 
ber, 1865, when in New York, I received a note from Mrs, 
Feaster begging me to call and see her at the Astor House. 
On doing so I found her living in style, with a handsome suite 
of rooms and surrounded by a number of army ofiicers. She 
was then working up her claim for loyalty and wanted me to 
give her a certificate as Mayor of Columbia that she was a 
widow. As I had seen Mr. Feaster but a few days previously 
in Columbia I was not able to help her, but I heard that she 
recovered $10,000 for her loyalty— Gen. Sherman having tes- 
tified that he had witnessea the destruction of hei property. 
Miss Eoozer soon after married a wealthy merchant of New 
York, a Mr. Beecher, but it was not long before she left him, 
and, after a short and brilliant career in Europe, married a 
wealthy gentleman and now resides, I believe, in Baltimore. 
It has been stated that she and her younger sister were the 


parties that were mixed up with the Crown Prince of Russia, 
a few years ago, and the loss of his mother's diamonds. She 
is now the Countess DePortales. 

I find that were I to continue in describing the incidents of 
that eventful night that I would greatly lengthen what I, at 
first, intended as merely an account of the conflagration, so I 
will conclude; but must mention that I was present in the 
oflBce of Governor Orr, some time in 1867, when Gen. Howard, 
then visiting Columbia, was there. Seeing Gen. Hampton 
across the street, I hailed him from the window, and when he 
entered Governor Orr introduced him to Gen. Howard. The 
first thing Gen. Hampton said was: "Gen. Howard, who 
burned Columbia.^" Gen. Howard laughed and said: "Why, 
General, of course we did." But afterward qualified it b}' 
saying: "Do not understand me to say that it was done by 
orders. ' ' 


The distinguished author says of Sherman's march : 

Day by day brought to the people of Columbia tidings of 
atrocities committed, and more extended progress. Daily did 
long trains of fugitives line the roads, with wives and children, 
and horses and stock and cattle, seeking refuge from the pur- 
suers, lyong lines of wagons covered the highways. Half 
naked people cowered from the winter under the bush tents in 
the thickets, under the eaves of the houses, under the railroad 
sheds, and in old cars left them along the route. All these re- 
peated the same story of suffering, violence, poverty and 
nakedness. Habitation after habitation, village after village — 
one sending up its signal flames to the other, presaging for it 
the same fate — lighted the winter midnight sky with crimson 

No language can describe nor can any catalogue furnish 
an adequate detail of the wide-spread destruction of the homes 
and property. Granaries were emptied, and where the grain 
was not carried off, it was strewn to waste under the feet of 
the cavalry or consigned to the fire which consumed the 
dwelling. The negroes were robbed equally with the whites 
of food and clothing. The roads were covered with butchered 
cattle, hogs, mules, and the costliest furniture. Valuable cabi- 
nets, rich pianos were not only hewn to pieces, but bottles of 
ink, turpentine, oil, whatever could efface or destroy, was em- 
ployed to defile and ruin. 

Horses were ridden into the houses. People were forced 
from their beds to permit the search after hidden treasures. 

The beautiful homesteads of the parish country, with their 
wonderful tropical gardens, were ruined ; ancient dwellings of 
black cypress, one hundred years old. which had been reared 
by the fathers of the republic — men whose names were famous 
in the Revolutionary history — were given to the torch as reck- 
lessly as were the rude hovels ; choice pictures and works of 
art, from Europe, select and numerous libraries, objects of 


peace wholly, were all destroyed. The inhabitants, black no 
less than white, were left to starve, compelled to feed only 
upon the garbage to be found in the abandoned camps of the 
soldiers. The corn scraped up from the spots where the 
horses fed, has been the only means of life left to the thous- 
ands, but lately in affluence. 

And thus plundering, and burning, the troops made their 
way through a portion of Beaufort into Ba^-nwell District, 
where they pursued the same game. The villages of Buford's 
Bridge, of Barnwell, Black vv'ell, Graham's. Bamberg, Midway, 
were more or less destroyed ; the inhabitants everywhere left 
homeless and without food. The horses and mules, all cattle 
and hogs, whenever fit for service or for food, were carried off, 
and the rest shot. Every implement of the workman or the 
farmer, tools, plows, hoes, gins, looms, wagons, vehicles, was 
made to feed the flames. 

From Barnwell to Orangeburg and Lexington was the next 
progress, marked everywhere by the same sweeping destruc- 
tion. Both of these court towns were burned. 

These tidings duly reached the people of Columbia, and 
might have prepared them for the treatment they were destined 
to receive. Daily accessions of fugitives, bringing with them 
their valuables and provisions, made ample report of the prog- 
ress of the Federal army. Hundreds of families had seasona- 
bly left long before, in anticipation of the danger. Columbia 
was naturally held to be one of the most secure places of 
refuge. It was never doubted that this capital city, which 
contained so many of the manufactures of the Confederate 
Government, the Treasury, etc., would be defended with all 
the concentrated vigor of which the Confederacy was capable, 
especially, too, as upon the several railroads connected with 
the city, the army of Lee and the safety of Richmond were 
absolutely dependent. Young women of family were sent in 
large numbers to a city where numbers seemed to promise a 
degree of security not to be hoped for in any obscure rural 
abode. The city was accordingl} doubled in population, and 
here also was to be found an accumulation of wealth, in plate, 
jewels, pictures, books, manufactures of art and virhi, not 


to be estimaLed--not, perhaps, to be paralleled in any other 
town of the Confederacy. In many instances the accumula- 
tions were those of a hundred years — of successive generations 
— in the hands of the oldest families of the South. A large 
proportion of the wealth of Charleston had been stored in the 
capital city, and the owners of these treasures, in many in- 
stances, were unable to effect any further remove. If appre- 
hensive of the danger, they could only fold their hands, and, 
hoping againsc hope, pray for escape from a peril to which 
they could oppose no further vigilance or effort. 

* ****** 

Whatever hopes might have been entertained of the ultimate 
success of our defences, they were all dissipated, when, by 
daylight, on the i6fh, (Thursday) the Confederate troops re- 
entered the city, burning the several bridges over the Con- 
garee. the Broad and Saluda rivers. They were quartered 
through the day about the streets, and along their several 
bivouacs they dng slight excavations in the earth as for rifle pits 
and for proieciJou from I he shells, which fell fast and thick 
about the town. The shelliag commenced the evening before, 
and continued throughout the night and next day. No sum- 
mons for surrender had been made ; no warning of any kind 
was given New batteries were in rapid progress of erection 
on the west si'ie of the Congaree, the more effectually to press 
the work of destruction. The damage was comparatively 
slight. The new capitol building was struck five times, but 
•suffered little or no injury. Numerous shells fell into the 
inhabited portion of the town, yet we hear of only two persons 
killed — one on the hospital square and anotlier near the South 
Carolina Railroad depot. 

* * * * ^ * * 

The inhabitants were startled at daylight, on Friday morn- 
ing, by a heavy explosion. This was the South Carolina 
Railroad depot. It was accidentally blown up. Broken open 
by a band of plunderers, among whom were many females and 
negroes, their reckless greed precipitated their fate. This build- 
ing had been made the receptacle of supplies from sundry 


quarters, and was crowded with stores of merchants and plant- 
ers, trunks of treasure, innumerable wares and goods of fugi- 
tives — all of great value. It appears that, among its contents, 
were some kegs of powder. The plunderers paid, and sud- 
denly, the penalties of their crime. Using their lights freely and 
hurriedly, the better iQpick, they fired a train of powder lead- 
ing to the kegs. The explosion followed, and the* number of 
persons destroyed is variously estimated, from seventeen to 
fifty. It is probable that not more than thirty-five suffered, 
but the actual number perishing is unascertained. 

At an early hour on Friday, the commissary and quarter- 
master stores were thrown wide, the contents cast out into the 
streets and given to the people. The negroes especially loaded 
themselves with plunder. All this might have been saved, 
had the officers been duly warned by the military authorities 
of the probable issue of the struggle. Wheeler's cavalry also 
shared largely of this plunder, and several of them might be 
seen, bearing off huge bales upon their saddles. 


Mayor's Office, 

Columbia, S. C, February, 17, 1865. 
"To Major-General Sherman: The Confederate forces have 
evacuated Columbia. I deem it my duty, as Mayor and repre- 
sentative of the city, to ask for its citizens the treatment accorded 
by the usages of civilized war- fare. I therefore respectfully 
request that you will send a sufficient guard in advance of the 
army, to maintain order in the city and protect the persons and 
property of the citizens. 

"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"T. J. GOODWYN, Mayor." 

At 9 o'clock, on the painfully memorable morning of the 
17th February, (Friday) a deputation from the City Council, 
consisting of the Mayor, Aldermen McKenzie, Bates and Stork, 
in a carriage bearing a white flag, proceeded to the Broad River 
bridge road. * * * * The deputation met the column of the 
Federals, under Captain Piatt, who sent them forward to Colo- 


nel Stone, who finally took his seat with them in the carriage. 
The advance belonged to the 15th corps. 

The Mayor reports that on surrendering the city to Colonel 
Stone, the latter assured him of the safety of the citizens and 
of the protection of their property, while tinder his comviand. 
He could not answer for General Sherman, who was in the 
rear, but he expressed the conviction that he would fully con- 
firm the assurances which he (Colonel Stone) had given. Sub- 
sequently, General Sherman did confirm them, and that night, 
seeing that the Mayor was exhausted by his labors of the day, 
he counseled him to retire to rest, saying, "Not a finger's 
breadth, Mr. Mayor, of your city shall be harmed. You may 
lie down to sleep, satisfied that your town shall be as safe in 
my hands as if wholly in your own." Such was very nearly 
the language in which he spoke; such was the substance of it. 
He added: "It will become my duty to destroy some of the 
public Government buildings; but I will reserve this perform- 
ance to another day. It shall be done tomorrow^ provided the 
day be calm." And the Mayor retired with this solemnly 
asserted and repeated assurance. 


Hardly had the troops reached the head of Main street, when 
the work of pillage was begun. Stores were broken open 
tvithin the first hour alter their arrival, and gold, silver, jewels 
and liquors, eagerly sought. The authorities, ofiicers, soldiers, 
all, seemed to consider it a matter of course. And woe to him 
who carried a watch with gold pendant; or who wore a choice 
hat, or overcoat, or boots or shoes. He was stripped in the 
twinkling of an eye. It is computed that, from first to last, 
twelve hundred watches were transferred from the pockets of 
their owners to those of the soldiers. Purses shared the same 
fate; nor was the Confederate currency repudiated. But all 
these things hereafter, in more detail. 


And here it may be well to mention, as suggestive of many 
clues, an incident which presented a sad commentary on that 
confidence in the security of the Convent, which was enter- 


tained by the great portion of the people. This establishment, 
under the charge of the sister of the Right Rev. Bishop Lynch, 
was at once a convent and an academy of the highest class. 
Hither were sent for education the daughters of the Protes- 
tants, of the most wealthy classes throughout the State; and 
these, with the nuns and those young ladies sent thither on the 
emergency, probably exceeding one hundred. The Lady Supe- 
rior entertained the fullest confidence in the immunities of the 
establishment. But her confidence was clouded, after she had 
enjoyed a conference with a certain major of the Yankee army, 
who described himself as an editor, trom Detroit. He visited 
her at an early day, and announced his friendly sympathies 
with the Lady Superior and the sisterhood; professed his anx- 
iety for their safety — his purpose to do all that he could to 
insure it — declared that he would instantly go to Sherman and 
secure a cho.sen guard; and, altogether, made such professions 
of love and service, as to disarm suspicions, which his 
bad looks and bad manners, inflated speech and pompous car- 
riage, might otherwise have provoked. The Lady Superior, 
with such a charge in her hands, was naturally glad to wel- 
come all shows and pi'ospects of support, and expressed her 
gratitude. He disappeared, and soon after re-appeared, bring- 
ing with him no less than eight or ten men — none of them — 
as he admitted, being Catholics. He had some specious argu- 
ment to show that, perhaps, her guard had better be one of the 
Prote.stants. This suggestion staggered the lady a little, but 
he seemed to convey a more potent reason, when he added, in 
a whisper: '' For I must tell you, my sister, that Colwnbia is a 
doomed city f^ Terrible doom! This officer leaving his men 
behind him, disappeared, to show himself no more. The guards 
so left behind were finally among the most busy as plunderers. 
The moment that the inmates driven out by fire, were forced to 
abandon their house, they began to revel in its contents. 

It may be well to remark that the discipline of the soldiers, 
upon their first entry into the cit-y, was perfect and most 
admirable. There was no disorder or irregularity on the line 


of march, showing that their officers had them completely in 
hand. They were a fine looking body of men, mostly young 
and of vigorous formation, well clad and well shod, seemingly 
wanting in nothing. Their arms and accoutrements were in 
bright order. The negroes accompanying them were not num- 
erous, and seemed mostly to act as drudges and bod}^ servants. 
They groomed horses, waited, carried burdens, and, in almost 
every instance under our eyes, appeared in a purely servile, and 
not a military, capacity. The men of the West treated them 
generally with gcorn or indifference, sometimes harshly, and 
not unfrequently with blows. 

But, if the entrance into town and while on duty, was indi- 
cative of admiral:)le drill and discipline, such ceased to oe the 
case the moment the troops were dismissed. Then, whether 
by tacit permission or direct command, their whole deportment 
underwent a suddeu and rapid change. The saturnalia soon 
began. We have shown that the robbery of the persons of the 
citizens and the plunder of their homes commenced within one 
hour after they had reached the Market Hall. It continued 
without interruption throughout the day. Sherman, at the 
head of his cavalry, traversed the streels everywhere— so did 
his officers. Subsequently, these officers were everywhere on 
foot, yet beheld nothing which required the interposition of 
authorit}'. And yet robbery was going on at every corner — in 
nearly every house. Citizens generally applied for a guard at 
their several houses, and, for a time, these guards were allotted 
them. These might be faithful or not. In some cases, as 
alrej'cly stated, they were, and civil and respectful; considerate 
of the claims of women, and never trespassing upon the privacy 
of the family; but, in numbers of cases, they were intrusive, 
insulting and treachei'ous — leaving no privacy undisturbed, 
passing without a word into the chambers and prying into every 
crevice and corner. 

But the reign of terror did not fairly begin till night. In 
some instances, where parties complained of the misrule and 
robbery, their guards said to them, with a chuckle : "This is 
nothing. Wait till tonight, and you'll see h-lL" 

Among the first fires at evening was one about dark, which 


broke out in a filthy purlieu of low houses, ol wood, on Ger- 
vais street, occupied mostly as brothels. Almost at the same 
time a body of soldiers scattered over the Eastern outskirts of 
the city, fired severally the dwellings of Mr. Secretary Tren- 
holm, General Wade Hampton, Dr. John Wallace, J. U. 
Adams, Mrs. Starke, Mr, Latta, Mrs. English, and many 
others. There were then some twenty fires in full blast, in as 
many different quarters, and while the alarm sounded from 
these quarters, a similar alarm was sent up almost simulta- 
neously from Cotton Town, the northermost limit of the city, 
and from Main street in its very centre, at the several stores or 
houses of O. Z. Bates, C. D. Eberhardt, and some others in 
the heart of the most densely settled portion of the town : 
thus enveloping in flames almost every section of the devoted 
city. At this period, thus early in the evening, there were 
few shows of that drunkenness which prevailed at a late hour 
in the night, and only after all the grocery shops on Main 
street had been rifled. The men engaged in this were well 
prepared with all the appliances essential to their work. They 
did not need the torch. They carried with them, from house 
to house, pots and vessels containing combustible liquids, 
composed probably of phosphorous and other similar agents, 
turpentine, etc., and with balls of cotton saturated in this 
liquid, with which they also overspread the floors and walls, 
they conveyed the flames with wonderful rapidity from dwell- 
ing to dwelling. Each had his ready box of Lucifer matches, 
and, vs^ith a scrape upon the walls, the flames began to rage. 
Where houses were closely contiguous, a brand from one was 
the means of conveying destruction to the other. 

Throughout the whole of this terrible scene the soldiers con- 
tinued their search after spoil. The houses were severally and 
soon gutted of their contents. Hundreds of iron safes, war- 
ranted "impenetrable to fire and the burglar," it was soon sat- 
isfactorily demonstrated, were not "Yankee proof." They 
were split open and robbed, 3delding, in some cases, very large- 
ly of Confederate money and bonds, if not of gold and silver. 
Jewelry and plate in abundance was found. Men could be 


seen staggering oflF with huge waiters, vases, candelabra, to 
say nothing of cups, goblets and smaller vessels, all of solid 
silver. Clothes and shoes, when new, were appropriated — -the 
rest left to burn. I^iquors were drank with such avidity as to 
astonish the veteran Bacchanals of Columbia ; nor did the par- 
ties thus distinguishing themselves hesitate about the vintage. 
There was no idle discrimination in the matter of taste, from 
the vulgar liquor, which Judge Burke used to say always pro- 
voked within him "an inordinate propensity to sthale," to the 
choicest red wines of the ancient cellars. In one vault on Main 
street, seventeen casks of wine were stored away, which, an 
eyewitness tells us, barely sufficed, once broken into, for the 
draughts of a single hour — such were the appetites at work 
and the numbers in possession of them. Rye, corn, claret and 
Maderia all found their way into the same channels, and we 
are not to wonder, when told that no less than one hundred 
and fifty of the drunken creatures perished miserably among 
the flames kindled by their own comrades, and from which 
they were unable to escape. The estimate will not be thought 
extravagant by those who saw the condition of hundreds after 
I o'clock A. M. By others, however, the estimate is reduced 
to thirty ; but the number will never be known. Sherman's 
officers themselves are reported to have said that they lost 
more men in the sack and burning of the city (including cer- 
tain explosions) than in all their fights while approaching it. 
It is also suggested that the orders which Sherman issued at 
daylight, on Saturday morning, for the arrest of the fire, were 
issued in consequence of the loss of men which he had thus 

f: * ^ ^ ^ >^ iic 

A certain Yankee officer happened to hear that an old ac- 
quaintance of his, whom he had known intimately at West 
Point and lyouisiana, was residing in Columbia. He went to 
see him after the fire, and ascertained that his losses had been 
very heavy, exceeding two hundred thousand dollars. The 
parties had not separated for an hour, when a messenger came 
from the Yankee, bringing a box, which contained one hun- 
dred thousand dollars in Confederate notes. This, the Yankee 


begged his Southern friend to accept, as helping to make up 
his losses. The latter declined the gift, not being altogether 
satisfied in conscience with regard to it. In many cases Con- 
federate money by the handful! was bestowed by the officers 
and soldiers upon parties from whom they had robbed the |^ 
particle of clothing, and even General Sherman could give to 
parties, whom he knew, the flour and bacon which had been 
taken from starving widows and orphans. So he left with the 
people of Columbia a hundred old muskets for their protection, 
while emptying their arsenals of a choice collection of beauti- 
ful Enfield rifles. And so the starving citizens of Columbia 
owe to him a few hundred starving cattle, which he had taken 
from the staiviu^- people of Beaufort, Barnwell, Orangeburg 
and Lexiugton — cattle without food, and for which food could 
not be found, and dying of exhaustion at the rate of fifteen to 
twent5^ head per diem. 

In this conuecHon and this section, in which we need to de- 
vote so much of our space to the cruel treatment of our women, 
we think it proper to include a communication from the ven- 
erable Dj . Sill, one of the most esteemed and well-known citi- 
zens of Columbia. It is from his own pen, and the facts oc- 
curred under his own eyes. We give this as one of a thous- 
and like cases, witnessed by a thousand eyes, and taking place 
at the same time in every quarter of the city, almost from 
the hour of the arrival of the army to that of its departure. 
He writes as follows : 

"On Thursday, the day before the evacuation of the city by 
the Confederate forces, I invited a very poor French lady, 
(Madame Pelletier) with ^er child, refugees from Charleston, 
to take shelter in my house, where they might, at least, have 
such protection as I could give her, shelter and food for her- 
self and child. She was poor, indeed, having very little cloth- 
ing, and only one or two implements — a sewing machine and a 
crimping apparatus — by means of which she obtained a pre- 
carious support. My own family (happily) and servants be- 
ing all absent, and being myself wholly incapacitated by years 
of sickness from making any exertion, all that the poor widow 
woman and myself could remove from my house, besides the 


few things of hers, consisted of two bags of flour, a peck of 
meal, and about the same of grist, and about thirty pounds of 
bacon and a little sugar. These few things we managed to get 
out of the house, and, by the aid of a wheelbarrow, removed 
about fifty 3^ards from the burning buildings. Waiting then 
and there, waiting anxiously the progress and the direction of 
the fire, we soon found that we had been robbed of one bag of 
flour and a trunk of valuable books of account and papers. 
The fire continuing to advace on us, we found it necessary to 
remove again. About this time there came up a stalwart soldier 
about six feet high, accoutred with pistols, bowie-knife, etc., 
and stooping down over the remaining bag of flour, demanded 
of the poor French lady what the bag contained. Having lost, 
but a few moments before, almost everything she had in the 
way of provisions, she seemed most deeply and keenly alive to 
her destitute situation, in the event she should lose the remain 
ing bag of flour; the last and only hope of escape from starva- 
tion of her child and herself She fell upon her knees, with 
hands uplifted, in a supplicating manner, and most piteously 
and imploringly set forth her situation — an appeal which, 
under the circumstances, it would be impossible to conceive, 
more touching or heart-rending. She told him she was not 
here of her own choice; that herself and husband had come to 
Charleston in i860 to better their fortunes; that they had been 
domiciled in New Jersey, where her husband had taken the 
necessary steps to become a citizen of the United States. She 
had in her hand papers vouching the truth of her statement; 
that her husband had died of yellow fever in Charleston; that 
being unable, from want of the means, to return to New Jersey, 
she had been driven from Charleston to Columbia, (a refugee, 
flying from t4ie enemy's shells,) to try to make an honest sup- 
port for herself and child. To all this, he not only turned a 
deaf ear, but deliberately drew from his breast a huge shining 
bowie-knife, brandished it in her face, rudely pushed her aside, 
using, at the same time, the most menacing and obscene lan- 
guage; shouldered the bag of flour, and started off, leaving the 
poor starving creature, with her helpless child, overwhelmed 
with grief and despair, K. Sllyly." 


We have averted to the outrages which were perpetrated with- 
in the households of the citizens, and which were unrestrained 
by the rebuking eyes of their own comrades, and unresisted by 
their interposition, cupidity, malignity, and lust sought to glut 
their several appetites. The cupidity generally triumphed 
over the lust. The greed for gold and silver swallowed up the 
more animal passions, and drunkenness supervened in season 
for the safety of many. 

We have heard of some few outrages, or attempts at outrage, of 
the worst sort, but the instances, in the case of white females, 
must have been very few. There was perhaps, a wholesome dread 
of goading to desperation the people whom the}^ had despoiled 
of ail but honor. They could see in many watchful and guar- 
dian eyes, the lurking expression which threatened sharp ven- 
geance, should their trespasses proceed to those extremes which 
they yet unquestionably contemplated. 

The venerable Mr. H stood ready, with his conteaic de 

chasse, made bare in his bosom, hovering around the persons 
of his innocent daughters. Mr. O — — , on beholding some 
familiar approach to one of his daughters, bade the man stand, 
off at the peril of his life; saying that while he submitted to 
being robbed of propertj^ he would sacrifice life without reserve 
— his own and that of the assailant — before his child's honor 
should be abused. 

Mr. James G. Gibbes, with difficulty, pistol in hand, and 
only with the assistance of a Yankee officer, rescued two young 
women from the clutches of as many ruffians. 

We have been told of successful outrages of this unmention- 
able character being practiced upon women dwelling in the 
suburbs. Many are understood to have taken place in remote 
country settlements, and two cases are described where young 
negresses were brutally forced by the wretches and afterwards 
murdered — one of them being thrust, when half dead, head 
down, into a mud puddle, and there held until she was suffo- 
cated. But this must suffice. 

The destruction of private libraries and valuable collections 
of objects of art and virtu, was very large in Columbia. It 


was at the urgent entreaties ot the Rev. Mr. Porter, the profes- 
sors and others, that the safety of the South CaroHna College 
library was assured. The buildings were occupied by Confed- 
erate hospitals, where some three hundred invalids and con- 
valescents found harborage. 

lyibraries of ten thousand volumes — books such as cannot 
again be procured — were sacrificed. It will suffice to illustrate 
the numerous losses of this sort in Columbia, to report the 
fate of the fine collections of Dr. R. W. Gibbes. This gentle- 
man, a man of letters and science, a virtuoso, busied all his 
life in the accumulation of works of art and literature, and 
rare objects of interest to the amateur and student, had been 
long known to the American world, North and South, in the 
character of a savant.. Perhaps no other person in South Caro - 
lina had more distinguished himself by his scientific writings, 
and by the indefatigable research which illustrated them, by 
the accumulation of proofs from the natural world. A friendly 
correspondent gives us a mournful narrative of the disasters to 
his house, his home, his manuscripts and his various and val- 
uable collections, from which we condense the following par- 

"Besides the fine mansion of Dr. Gibbes, and its usual con- 
tents of furniture, his real estate on Main street, etc., his scien- 
tific collections and paintings were of immense value, occasion- 
ing more regret than could arise from any loss of mere prop- 
erty. His gallery contained upwards of two hundred paintings, 
among which were pictures by Washington AUston, Sully , 
Inman, Charles Fraser and DeVeaux; and many originals and 
copies by European hands, were highly prized from their in- 
trinsic excellence and interesting associations. The family 
portraits in the collection were also numerous — some ancient, 
all valuable, and several admirable busts graced his drawing 
room. His portfolios contained collections of the best engrav- 
ings, from the most famous pictures of the old masters and by 
the most excellent engravers of the age. These were mostly 
a bequest from the venerable C. Fraser, who was one of those 
who best knew what a good engraving or picture should be, 


and who had, all his life, been engaged in accumulating the 
most valuaole illustrations of the progress of art. Nor was the 
library of Dr. Gibbes less rich in stores of letters and science, 
art and medicine. His historical collection was particularly- 
rich, especially in American and South Carolina history. His 
cabinet of Southern fossils and memorials, along with those 
brought from the remotest regions, was equally select and 
extensive. It contained no less than ten thousand specimens. 
The collection of shark's teeth was pronounced by Agassiz to 
be the finest in the world. His collection of historical docu- 
ments, original correspondence of the Revolution, especially 
that of South Carolina, was exceedingly large and valuable. 
From these he had compiled and edited three volumes, and had 
there arrested the publication, in order to transfer his material 
to the Historical Societv of South Carolina. All are now lost. 
So, also, was his collection of autographs— the letters of emi- 
nent correspondents in every department of letters, science and 
art. Many relics of our aborigines, others from the pyramids 
and tombs of Egypt, of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Mexico, 
with numerous memorials from the Revolutionary and recent 
battlefields of our country, shared the same fate — are gone down 
to the same abyss of ruin. The records of the Surgeon-Gen- 
eral's Department of the ytate, from its organization, no longer 
exist. The dwelling which contained these inestimable treas- 
ures was deliberately fired by men, for whose excuse no whis- 
key influence could be pleaded. They were quite as sober as 
in a thousand other cases where they sped with the torch of 
the incendiary. It was fired in the owner's presence, and when 
he expostulated with them, he was laughed to scorn. A friend 
who sought to extinguish the fire kindled in his very parlor, 
was seized by the collar and hurled aside, with the ejaculation, 
"Let the d-d house burn." 

^ :U -S * * :^ *- 

Escorting a sad procession of fugitives from the burning 
dwellings, one of the soldiers said : 
"What a glorious sight ! " 
"Terribly so," said one of the ladies. 

"Grand ! " said he. 


"Very pitiful," was the reply. 

The lady added : 

"How, as men, you can behold the horrors of this scene, 
and behold the suiFerings of these innocents, without terrible 
pangs of self-condemnation and self-loathing, it is difhcult to 

"We glory in it ! " was the answer. "I tell you, madam, 
that when the people of the North hear of the vengeance we 
have meted out to your city, there will be a universal shout of 
rejoicing from man, woman and child, from Maine to Mary- 

"You are, then, sir, only a fitting representative of your 

Another, who had forced himself as an escort upon a party, 
on the morning of Saturday, said, pointing to the thousand 
stacks of chimneys, "You are a curious people in house-building. 
You run up your chimneys before you build the house.'' 

One who had been similarly impudent, said to a mother, 
who was bearing a child in her arms : 

"Let me carry the baby, madam." 

"Do not touch him for your life," was the reply. "I would 
sooner hurl him into the flames and plunge in after him than 
that he should be polluted by your touch. Nor shall a child 
of mine ever have e^^en the show of obligation to a Yankee ! " 

"Well, that's going it strong, by — ; but I like your pluck. 
We like it d-e; and you'll see us coming back after the war — 
every man of us — to get a Carolina wife. We hate your men 
like h — 1, but we love your women ! " 

****** *** 

The morning of Saturday, the iSth of February, opened 
still with its horrors and terrors, though somewhat diminished 
in their intensity A lady said to an officer at her house, 
somewhere about 4 o'clock that morning : 

"In the name of God, sir, when is this work of hell to be 
ended ? " 

He replied : "You will hear the bugles at sunrise, when a 
guard will enter the town and withdraw these troops. It will 
then cease, and not before." 


Sure enough, with the bugle's sound, and the entrance of 
fresh bodies of troops, there was an instantaneous arrest of 
incendiarism. You could see the rioters carried off in groups 
and squads, from the several precincts they had ravaged, and 
those which they still meditated to destroy, 

The tap of the drum, the sound of the signal cannon, could 
not have been more decisive in its effect, more prompt and 
complete. But two fires were set, among private dwellings, 
after sunrise ; and the flames only went up from a few places, 
where the fire had been last applied ; and these were rapidly 

The best and most beautiful portion of Columbia lay in ruins. 
Never was ruin more complete ; and the sun rose with a wan 
countenance, peering dimly through the dense vapors which 
seemed wholly to overspread the firmament. Very miserable 
was the spectacle. On every side ^uins, and smoking masses 
of blackened walls, and towers of grim, ghastly chimneys, and 
between, in desolate groups, reclining on mattresi-j, or bed, or 
earth, were wretched women and children, gazing vacantly on 
the site of a once blessed abode of home and innocence. 


Several instances have been given us of their modes of re- 
pelling the association of the negro, usually with blow of the 
fist, butt of the musket, slash of the sword, or prick of the 

Sherman looked on these things indifferently, if we are to 
reason for a single lact afforded us by Mayor G-oodwyn. These 
gentlemen, while v/alking with the General, heard the report 
of a gun. Both heard it, and immediately proceeded to the 
spot. There they found a group of soldiers, with a stalwart 
young negro fellow lying dead before them on the street, the 
body yet warm and bleeding. Pushing it with his feet. Sher- 
man said, in his quick, hasty manner : 

"What does this mean, boys? " 

The reply was sufficiently cool and careless. "The d--d 
black rascal gave us his impudence, and we shot him." 

"Well, bury him at once ! Get him out of sight ! " 

As they passed on, one of the party remarked : 


"Is that the way, General, you treat such a case? " 

"Oh !" said he, "we have no time now for courts-martial 

and things of that sort ! ' ' 

A lad_y showed us a coverlet, with huge holes burned in it, 

which she said had covered a sleeping negro woman, when the 

Yankees, threw their torches into her bed, from which she was 

narrowly extricated with life. 

* -x- ***** * * 

We should not overlook the ravages and destruction in the 
immediate precincts of the city, though beyond its corporate 
boundaries. Within a few miles of Columbia, from two to 
five miles, it was girdled by beautiful country seats, such as 
those of the Hampton family — Millwood — a place famous of yore 
for its charms and elegance of society, its frank hospitality and 
the lavish bounty of its successive hosts. The destruction of 
this family seat of opulence, and grace, and hospitality, will 
occasion sensation in European countries, no less than in our 
tDwn, among those who have enjoyed its grateful privileges, as 
guest, in better days. 

The beautiful country seat of Mr. Secretary Trenholm, Dr. 
John Wallace, Mrs, Thomas Stark, Col. Thomas Taylor, Capt. 
James U. Adams, Mr. C. P. Pelhara, (Mill Creek,) as well as 
homestead — and many mere- — all shared the fate of Millwood — 
all were robbed and ruined, then given to thj flames ; and from 
these places were carried off all horses, mules, cattle, hogs, and 
stock of every sort ; and the provisions not carried off, were 

In many cases, where mules and horses were not choice, 
they were shot down. But this was the common history. On 
all the farms and plantations, and along the roadsides every- 
where, for many a mile, horses, mules and cattle, strew the 
face of the country. Young colts, however fine the stock, had 
their throats cut. One informant tells us that in one pile he 
counted forty slain mules on the banks of the Saluda. Every 
vehicle which could not be carried away was destroyed. 

A list of residences and stores destroyed in the city of Co- 
lumbia on Monday night, 17th of February, 1865, was 1,386. 


E. J. Scott, one of the oldest and most respectable citizens of 
Columbia, has written about Sherman's entrance. From his 
book I quote as follows : 

Friday; October 17th, about 9 o'clock Gen. Hampton di- 
rected Mayor Goodwin to surrender, and before 10 o'clock a 
company of Wheeler's cavalry passed down Main street order- 
ing all soldiers to leave it as the enemy were coming in. About 
that hour a carriage displaying the United States flag, with an 
officer or two and the Mayor, drove rapidly down to the mar- 
ket, where I went and saw Col. Stone, who had received the 
surrender, with Alderman McKenzie, Bates and a few citizens. 
Mr. McKenzie informed me that the surrender was uncondi- 
tional, and then I asked the Colonel : "Will private property 
be respected in the city ? " He seemed indignant at the ques- 
tion, and replied : "Private property' will be respected ; we are 
not savages. If vou let us alone, we will let you alone." He 
was a handsome ;, oung officer, who looked and spoke like a 
gentleman, and I believed him. These assurances he repeated 
to others in my presence. I thanked him, and, returning to 
the bank, informed Henry's wife that I thought she could re- 
main there in safety till evening, when I would take her to my 
house. As the carriage passed she became frantic with ex- 
citement, and declared her purpose to wave a Confederate 
banner from the window, which I prevented her from trying to 
do. On my vv'ay home I saw some of the first troops that 
marched in leave their ranks and break open Mordecai's and 
Heise's liquor shops with axes. While I was stopping at the 
engine house, next above the Market, one of them came 
across the street, followed by a negro, and demanded admit- 
tance into J. C. Walker's store, whereupon Walker handed him 
the key of the front door, and he and the negro went in. Just 
then some of them were trying to force the front door to James 
G Gibbes' store, where McKenzie's confectionery now is, and 
in a minute or two the side door, next to the Court House, was 


broken open and the negroes and soldiers streamed in and 
helped themselves. 

While going down Main street to Janne^^'s, towards 12 
o'clock, Gen. Sherman and his staff rode up. The soldiers 
were then breaking open and robbing tlie stores within his 
sight and hearing. After dinner I went back to the bank with 
a negro to bring some of Henry's things to my house. Ivarge 
bodies of troops were marching down Main street, and a soldier 
with several negroes was in Henry's rooms. 

Hampton's house, on Camden road, and Authur's, in the 
suburbs, were burnt before night. Just after dark Puryear's, 
at race track, and Dr. John Wallace's were on fire. The Char- 
lotte railroad track, in sight from my back door, was also 
burning. I went to bed with my clothes on, and about 10 
o'clock I heard fowls in the yard squalling and men catching 
them. The light of the fire grew brighter towards Main 
street, and after getting up two or three times to look at it I 
had gone to sleep, when at 2 o'clock my old negro, Quash, 
woke me at the back door, saying Mrs. Zimmerman, next 
door, was moving out her furniture and I must get up, as the 
orders were to burn every house. All rose, and, by my direc- 
tions, put on all the clothes they could and made bundles of 
what they could carry. 

The streets, lit up as bright as day, were occupied by men, 
women and children, standing or sitting by such household 
goods, furniture, clothing, and bedding as they had saved 
from their burning houses. The wind showed no sign of 
abating, but it gradually changed and came from the northeast, 
blowing back upon the fire and saving my premises. I went 
to Mr. Dovillier's and helped his wife put two or three big^ 
pictures in frames on her head, which she carried over to my 
house, and thence beyond the Female College, where her 
husband and his mother were in the street. Whilst there Pel- 
ham's house, just opposite, took fire, and with Dr. William 
Reynolds, Jr., I carried water from Dovillier's well to put it 
out. Mike Brennan, in Pelham's door, called on three or four 
soldiers in the street to assist in saving the building, but one 
of them said, "d--n the house, let it burn;" and they did 


nothing. It burnt, and Sam Muldrow's next door. There the 
lire stopped in our street. On the way to Dovillier's I met a 
Yankee soldier, who accosted rae with the question, "Well, 
old man, what do you think of the Yankees now? " I replied, 
"I think they have done their work pretty thoroughly this 
time," and he rejoined, with an oath, "Yes, if you want a job 
well done put a Yankee at it." 

The Methodist church, on Washington street, was set on 
fire three times before its destruction was completed. Mr. Con- 
nor, ihe clergyman in charge, who lived in the parsonage ad- 
joining, having twice put out the fire. 'W'hen they burnt the 
parsonage he brought out a sick child wrapped in a blanket, 
and one of the soldiers seizing the blanket, he begged that it 
might be spared because of the child's sickness. The brute 
tore it off and threw it into the flames, saying, "D-n you. if 
you say a word I'll throw the child after it." 

Sunday, February 19. This morning Mayor Good wyn, Rev. 
Mr. Taliey, Wm. M. Martin, and several other citizens and 
myself called on Gen. Howard to see what -provision could be 
made to feed and protecv the people till supplies could be got 
from abroad. He proceeded with us to see Gen. Sherman on 
Gervais street at Blanton Duncan's house. He received us 
very courteously indeed, seeming to be on particularly good 
terms with himself. No peacock ever manifested more vanity 
and delight than he did when addre.-;sing us, he said, "Gentle- 
men what can I do for you. You ought to be at church." 
Mayor Goodwin stated our condition with 20,000 old men, 
women and children having no provisions or means of defense, 
and requested a supply of arms and ammunition, with food 
enough to keep us alive, till we could communicate with the 
country. Gen. Sherman replied with a long lecture or har- 
angue on our folly in beginning the war, the subject ot sla- 
very, the mismanagement of Beauregard, condition of Geor- 
gia, etc. 

The fire, he admitted, was caused by his troops saying : "It 
is our men have burnt Columbia, but it was your fault." And 
when Dr. Goodwyn inquired, "How so. General.' " He re- 
plied that our people had made his soldiers drunk, citing an 


instance of a druggist, who he was told brought out a pail of 
whiskey to them. Dr. Miot here interrupted him to remark 
that he was a druggist, but he had heard of no such case. Mr. 
McCarter also stated that a soldier had demanded his watch, 
while pointing a pistol at his head, but the General only- 
laughed and told him that he ought to have resisted. He con- 
cluded by consenting to leave us 500 head of beef cattle, 100 
muskets and ammunition, all the salt at the Charleston rail- 
road depot, and wire enough to work a flat across the river. 
He also promised that his Surgeon General should turn over 
to us some medicine for the use of the sick in our midst. This, 
he said, was contrarj' to usage, but I thought his treatment of 
Columbia liable to the same remark. Some of us went to the 
depot, where we found 60 or 80 tierces of salt, which Gen. 
Howard agreed to haul to the new State House for us. While 
on the way we saw the gas works on fire. 

Gen. Sherman, in his discourse to us, never named nor 
alluded to Gen. Hampton or the burning of the cotton as 
causing the fire. Yet in his oiSciai report, which was proba- 
bly made the same day, he charged it to Hampton, acknowledg- 
ing, as it seems to me, that he knew the charge to be false at 
the time. I quote his own words : "In my official report of 
this conflagration I distinctly charged it to Gen Wade Hamp- 
ton, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his 
people in him, for he was, in my opinion, a braggart and pro- 
fessed to be the special champion of South Carolina." (See 
Sherman's Memoirs, Vol. II, page 287.) Surely any comment 
on this precious confession would be superfluous, since it dis- 
closes, in a single sentence, the character of its author and the 
length to which he will go in dealing with an opponent. 

In his Memoirs he says further: "Many of the people 
thought the fire was deliberately planned and executed. This 
is not true. It was accidental, and, in my judgment, began 
with the cotton which Gen. Hampton's men had set fire to on 
leaving the city." 

Thus it appears that he gave three different versions of the 
origin of the fire, each one varying from and inconsistent with 
the other two, to wit : First, that it was caused by his men ; 


second, by Gen. Hampton ; third, by accident. Which, if 
either, is to be believed? I have no hesitation in saying the 
first, for the following, among other reasons : 

1. Because he knew, and he said so voluntarily on the second 
day after it occurred, while it was fresh in his mind, in the 
presence of our citizens named above and a half dozen or so of 
his own officers of the highest rank, who knew the facts, and 
who, by their silence, acquiesced in and endorsed its correct- 
ness, since they would hardly have allowed so grave a charge 
against their men to pass without a contradiction if they had 
known it to be untrue. 

2. On page 288 of his Memoirs occurs this passage : "Hav- 
ing utterly ruined Columbia, the right wing took up its march 
northward, etc." 

3. Gen. Howard, while in Columbia in 1867, called on 
Governor Orr at his office, above stairs in the Branch Bank 
building, my bank and brother's office being on the first floor. 
There he met, besides Governor Orr, Gen. Hampton, Gen. 
John S. Preston, James G. Gibbes, and F. G. DeFontaine 
Gen. Hampton came down from the Executive office to mine 
and said to me : ''I have just left Gen. Howard up stairs, and 
was greatly pleased to hear him say, in conversing upon the 
burning of this place : 'It is useless to deny that our troops 
burnt Columbia, for I saw them in the !^act." ' I understand 
Gen. Howard made a similar statement to Col. L,. D. Childs 
the same day. 

4. I have mingled with the people of Columbia ever since 
the fire, except when occasionally absent for a short time, and 
have conversed on the subject with all classes, old and young, 
rich and poor, male and female, white and colored, and among 
them all have never heard it attributed to auy other cause, 
many giving instances of the troops carrying from house to 
house balls of rags or cotton saturated with spirits of turpentine, 
and calling on the inmates to come out, when they set fire to 
the building and robbed them of their contents. 

5. Because these same troops burnt Orangeburg, Lexington, 
Winnsboro, Camden, and Cheraw, besides hundreds of private 
residences in the country. Col. Stone, who received the sur~ 


render of Columbia, published a statement, some years ago, 
describing the destruction of dwellings and desolation of the 
country wherever their army marched throughout the State. 
And there is no pretense that any of these were accidental or 
caused by burning cotton. Then, as to Hampton's causing 
the fire, Sherman's own confession puts the innocence of the 
former beyond doubt. 

In favor of the accidental burning, he dismisses the subject 
by saying in his Memoirs, page 287 : "This whole subject has 
since been thoroughly and judicially investigated, in some 
cotton cases, by the mixed commission of American and British 
claims, under the treaty of Washington, which commission 
failed to find a verdict in iavor of the English claimants, and 
thereby settled the fact that the destruction of property in 
Columbia, during that night, did not result from the acts of 
the General Government of the United States — that is to say. 
from my army." 

Unfortunately for Gen. Sherman, that verdict settled noth- 
ing but the British claims in the cotton cases then tried, and, 
as I hope to show, it was founded on defective and incorrect 
testimony. The higher claims of truth, justice and humanity 
were neither considered nor settled by it. These concerned 
the citizens of Columbia and involved interests infinitely supe- 
rior, in character and extent, to the value of all the cotton. 
They could not be settled by a mere inference or implication 
on a side issue in a case between entirely different parties, 
tried by a tribunal created for a different and distinct purpose. 
I understand the issue before the commission was whether the 
government had taken cotton belonging to British claimants, 
and was decided in the negative because the cotton was burnt 
and therefore could not have been takeri. Who burnt the 
town was another question, into which the commission had no 
right to inquire and did not enter. To pass upon it a court 
or commission should have met in Columbia where the trans- 
action occurred and the facts were best known, instead of at 
Washington, five hundred miles distant, under the influence 
of the United States Government and of Gen. Sherman. To 
give some idea of the evidence that would have been submitted 


in that case, and how it was procured, I will state that when 
Sherman's charge against Hampton became known in Colum- 
bia, a public meeting was held to provide for collecting the 
testimony in relation to the destruction of the city, and that 
Chancellor J. P. Carroll, lately deceased, as chairman of a 
committee appointed for that purpose, received more than 
sixty depositions and statements in writing irom as many in- 
dividuals, I quote from his report an outline of its contents. 
This report, I understand, is to be published in full by Chan- 
cellor Carroll's famil}^ : 

"The arra}'- of witnesses is impressive, not merely because 
of their number, but for the high tone and elevated character 
of some, the unpretending and sterling probity of others, and 
the general intelligence and worth of all. The plain and un- 
varnished narrative subjoined is taken from the^ testimony re- 
ferred to, solely and exclusively, except so much as refers to 
certain declarations of Gen. Sherman and the forces under hjs 
command. The soldiers were universal in their threats ; they 
seemed to gloat over the distress that would accrue from their 
march in the State. General Sherman himself said to a lady 
of his acquaintance : Go off the line of the railroad. I will 
not answer for the consequences where the army passes." 

Before the surrender of the town, the soldiers or Gen. Sher- 
man, ofl&cers and privates, declared that it was to be destroyed. 
At lycxington, on the i6th of February, Gen. Kilpatrick said 
in reference to Columbia : "Sherman will lay it in ashes for 
them?" A Federal I^ieutenant on the 17th wrote to Mrs. 
McC(5rd : "My heart bleeds to think of what is threatening ; 
leave the town, go anywhere to be safer than there." To 
W. H. Orchard the leader of a squad said : "If you have any- 
thing you wish to save, take care of it at once, for before 
morning this d'nd town will be in ashes. If you watch, you 
will see the rockets go up soon. If you don't take my advice, 
you will see hell." Within an hour afterwards three rockets 
were seen to ascend, and but a few minutes elapsed before fires 
in quick succession broke out at intervals so distant that they 
could not have been communicated from one to the other. At 
various parts of the town the soldiers of Gen. Sherman at the 


appearance of the rockets declared that they were the appointed 
signals for a general conflagration. The soldiers with bayonets 
and axes pierced and cut the hose, disabled the engines and 
prevented the citizens from extinguishing the flames. By 3 
o'clock A. M. on the night of February 17th, 1865, more than 
two-thirds of the town lay in ashes, comprising the most 
highly improved and the entire business part of it. That 
Columbia was burned by the soldiers of Gen. Sherman, that, 
the vast majority of the incendiaries were sober, that for 
hours they were seen with combustibles firing house after 
house, without any affectation of concealment and without the 
slightest check from their officers, is established by proof full 
to repletion, and wearisome from its very superfluity. After 
the destruction of the tojvn, his officers and men approved of 
its burning and exulted in it. It was said by members of the 
soldiers that the order had been given to burn down the city. 

As to the cotton. Gens, Beauregard and Hampton ordered it 
not to be burned. These orders were issued by Capt. Rawlins 
lyowndes, then acting as Hampton's Adjutant, and Gen. M. C. 
Butler, wno was with the rear squadron of the Confederate 
cavalry, deposes that Hampton directed him that the cotton 
was not to be burnt ; that this direction was communicated to 
the entire division and was strictly observed. Rev. A. Toomer 
Porter was told by Gen. Hampton : "The cotton is not to be 
burnt ; the wind is too high ; it might catch something and 
give Sherman an excuse for burning the town." Mayor 
Goodwyn deposes that Hampton said the same to him. The 
wind blew from the west, but the fires at night broke out west 
of Main and Sumter streets, where the cotton bales were, and 
instead of burning the houses was probably burnt by them. 

March 15th. James G. Gibbes has acted as mayor in place 
of Dr. Goodwyn, who became completely worn out from 
fatigue and anxiety when Sherman left us. Gibbes, by com- 
mon consent, was the only man here with energy and capacity 
for the occasion. He seemed to never tire or relax his efforts, 
going everywhere', listening to all complaints, attending all 
calls, talking, eating and drinking as he went, and his services 
to the city were beyond all computation or compensation, yet 


he never charged or received a single cent, and seemed glad 
for once in his life to have on hand as much as he could do. I 
have served daily in distributing for good ; have met a com- 
mittee with Dr. Gibbes, Dr. John Fisher, Messrs Edgerton, 
J. A. Crawford, and D P. McDonald for the trial of disorderl}'- 
negroes, who need checking these lawless times, and have at- 
tended meetings of a committee of city council with Mr. Ker- 
rison and Col. Hey ward, deputed by the Governor to collect 
and distribute supplies. The five hundred beeves left us by 
Gen. Sherman proved to be the starving cattle that his fora- 
gers had collected on their march, and were miserably poor, 
yet they served to keep our people alive for some weeks, a 
ration of a pound of this wretched beef and a quart of meal 
per day being issued to the number .of 7,000 applicants whom 
we had enrolled. The supply of medicine for our 20,000 pop- 
ulation, received by Dr. Gibbes from the Federal Surgeon 
General, was in a box that would have held one or two hundred 
cigars, with a pint bottle of castor oil. 


I am indebted to the scrap book of Miss Kate Crawford for 
the following letter from Hon. Alfred Huger. No gentleman 
was better known in the State than he. His letter, taken from 
the New York World, speaks for itself : 

Charleston. S. C, Aug. 22, 1866. 
To the Editor of the World: 

Sir : I most unwillingly leave the retirement and obscurity 
-which old age and circumstances have provided; but a remark 
in your paper of the 13th seems to demand it. A writer 
signed "S," replying to an article in Harper's Magazine, for 
August, introduces my name in these words : "This must 
refer to Alfred Hugher, for many years postmaster at Char-, 
leston," etc., etc. I turn to the Magazine and, to my sur- 
prise, find a contributor whose purpose and motive it is not my 
business to define making capital out of so barren a subject as 
myself. Begiuning with the "Burning of Columbia" and the 
abuse of Gen. Hampton, he says : "Among others to whom I 
was sent to give assistance was Mr. Huger, a well known 
citizen of South Carolina," and then recounts an elaborate 
conversation about a band of thieves, calling themselves 
Wheeler's Cavalry, etc. And in another part of his narrative 
writes : "When the citizens of Columbia begin their investiga- 
tions of the burning of that city, and pillaging of houses and 
robbing of citizens, let them not forget to take the evidence of 
Mr. Huger." I am thus put on the stand without being con- 
sulted, and shall commence by saying that if this individual or 
any other was ever "sent" to my "assistance," the mission has 
been strangely oisregarded. I never saw any such person as 
he claims to be, though I was an eye witness to the burning of 
Columbia. I never had any such intercourse with any human 
being in Gen. Sherman's army, or out of it; and if investiga- 
tions are made, and the evidence of Mr. Huger is called for, I 
shall, with a deep consciousness of what is due to truth, say 
that, all that I heard, all that I suffered, all that I believe, is 


in direct opposition to what is aflSrmed by the writer for Har- 
per's Magazine, and for which he quotes Mr. Huger as a por- 
tion of his authority; and I ask leave to add, after maturely 
reflecting upon the events of that leartul night, when every 
feeling of humanity seemed to be obliterated if my "well be- 
ing" here and hereafter depended on the accuracy of my state- 
ment, I would say that the precision, order, method, and 
discipline which prevailed from the entrance of the Federal 
army to its departure could only emanate from military au- 

How could I come to any other conclusion, with the fact, 
regarded as indisputable, that the city was doomed before it 
was taken.? and that, as -the tragedy progressed, everybody 
saw the programme carried out, as they had previously ex- 
pected ? or how am I to believe my own senses when an indi- 
vidual, pretending to be an officer, talks of burning the city, 
pillaging houses, robbing citizens, etc., as if these were un- 
founded charges? Why, sir, I never supposed I was dealt with 
more hardly than others, because I know that the "plunder" 
was universal. Yet Mr. Huger, who is to bear witness for one 
who was sent to assist him, now declares "that he was merci- 
lessly robbed; that his person was ruthlessly violated; that 
food was taken away from his orphan children, and that his 
family were brutally insulted by well-mounted and well-armed 
men in the uniform of the United States ! " For aught I know, 
it may be usual or even necessary to grant this license; while 
the denial is equally absurd and wicked, and the attempt to 
implicate other people is the consumation of both ! But this is 
the end that such things come to, and the natural consequence 
of calling witnesses to prove what the witnesses themselves 
know to be false. I saw those who were apparently plying 
their vocation deliberately set fire to houses, carrying with 
them combustible preparations for doing so. Of the effort 
made to prevent them I say nothing, because I saw nothing. 
It gratifies me, however, to relate this instance of kindness. 
My own house was about to be destroyed by the firing of an 
adjoining building. There were two western men looking on — 
soldiers in the true sense of the word. I asked one of them, 


(their names were EUiott and Goodman, one from Indiana, 
the other from Iowa) "Have you a family at home?" He 
answered "Yes." I said to him, "My family is ill in that 
room; have you no thought of your own? " The man showed 
that he had a heart, and as the incendiary n\oved off to other 
objects, he did assist me, without being "sent," and with my 
servants and the only child I had big enough to "hand a 
bucket" we saved the house, with its helpless inmates, thanks 
to this Good Samaritan. 

My conviction is that Columbia was cruelly and uselessly 
sacked and burned without resistance, after being in complete 
possession of Gen. Sherman's army; but who gave the "order" 
to apply the torch, is not for the victims either to know or to 
care. Hundreds of helpless women and children were turned 
out to their fate. It is the historian's business to find evidence 
to meet the case, not mine, and my voice would never have 
been heard, had I not been unjustly dragged before the public. 
The truth, and the whole truth, will probably never appear; 
but it is "recorded in the high chancery of Heaven, where no 
human power can make the erasure." 

Mr. Editor, I crave your patience a little longer, and beg 
your attention to the first sentence in the article of which I 
complain. It reads thus: "If Mr. Wade Hampton is anxious 
to add a deeper shame to a dishonored name, he has attained 
that end by his renewed attempts to hold Gen. Sherman re- 
sponsible for the burning of Columbia and its terrible conse- 
quences," etc. Now, sir, I speak for every honest man be- 
tween the mountains and the seacoast, and between the Savan- 
nah river and the Pee Dee, when I say, "If this opinion and 
this epithet are not equally revolting and insulting, then the 
common sensibilities of nature are made extinct by the 
sufferings we have endured." If "Hampton" is a "dishon- 
ored name," there is none within the limits of this down- 
trodden and persecuted State that can be considered as un- 
sullied. Here in South Carolina, and throughout the South, 
every human being feels that where the name of Hampton is 
best known it is most revered, and he who bears it is the most 
beloved. Before the present incumbent saw the light, that 


name was identified with all that is brave, and honorable, and 
generous. What a noble sire (who emphatically and habitu- 
ally "did the honors" of his native State) has left impressed 
upon the hearts of his countrymen as a legacy to his children, 
this slandered Mr. Wade Hampton, late Lieutenant-General 
of the Confederate army, will transmit to another generation 
bright and untarnished. If there is one among us more 
cherished than the rest, it is he upon whom this gratuitous 
assault is so brutally, and yet so feebly made. And if today 
or tuinorrow a canvass should be opened for our "representa- 
tive man" to fill the highest office in the gift of a heart-broken, 
but grateful people, none could be found strong enough to 
compete with him for their favors. And it would be untrue 
to the living and the dead if such were not the unanimous de- 

I have said that the historian must find evidence as to the 
burning of Columbia and he will find it. The foolish attempt 
to hold Hampton responsible is beyond the tether of his last 
calumniator and is hardly worthy of a serious refutation. 

These few questions, when they are asked, will be found 
difEculL to answer. Where was Hampton when the conflagra- 
tion began to take its regular course at 8 o'clock at night? 
Bid the cotton which was burning at the east end of Main 
street travel against a gale of wind to the extreme west more 
Iban a mile off? Was it not there and then that we were 
called on to perceive that our doom was sealed? Why talk of 
putting out the fire in a church-yard when it is notorious that 
the sacramental silver belonging to the altar was stolen, and I 
think subsequently given up? Did Hampton burn the country 
seats surrounding Columbia, leaving his kith and kindred 
without a shelter'' Did he burn every farm house on the wayside 
and away from the wayside — every grist mill and flour mill? Did 
be burn Camden, Winnsboro and Cheraw? Was the quantity of 
silver plate taken from the citizens of Columbia sold for Hamp- 
ton's benefit in New York and elsewhere? Is it the necessary 
province ofwar to obliterate all mercy and all shame? But enough. 
When the searcher of hearts commences his "investigations" 
Hampton will be found entrenched by truth — surrounded by 


that Strength which "prosperity and victory" cannot giv^e, 
and which "adversity and malignity" cannot take away. 

Mr. Editor, we are doing our best, with Heaven'i help, to 
have a country once more. North, South, Kast and West are 
enlisted in this holy enterprise. All have joined hands in this 
sacred work, and a Chief Magistrate, distinguished for his 
high sense of duty, and for his inflexible courage in its per- 
formance wisely tells us "if we cannot forget the past, We can 
never have a future; " and standing as I do, almost in sight of 
the grave, among the oldest men in the State that gave me 
birth, I will say "Amen" to their sentiment. Let the past be 
forgotten, if such is possible; at any rate let it not be referred 
to if the object is "peace" and the "hope" is in the future. 
I am very respectfully, your obedient servant, 



Columbia, S. C, July 14, 1865. 
:To the Editor of the Day Book: 

Gentlemen: In your paper of the 6th of May I have just 
seen Gen. Sherman's official report of his march through the 
two Carolinas. As his report misrepresents me in the grossest 
and falsest manner, I trust, that you will not deny me the 
right to vindicate myself. It is due to history, if it is not to 
me, that the falsehoods of Gen. Sherman in reference to the 
destruction of this city should be exposed. This shall be done 
in the briefest possible manner. The report says: "Gen. 
Wade Hampton, who commanded the rear guard of cavalry, 
had in anticipation of our capture of Columbia ordered that all 
cotton, public and private, should be moved into the street 
and fired to prevent our making use of it. * * * Some of 
these piles of cottoii were burning, especially one, in the very 
heart of the city near the Court House, but the fire was par- 
tially subdued by the labor of our soldiers. >!< * * Before 
one sin'^jle public building had been fired by order the smoul- 
dering fires set by Hampton's order were rekindled by the 
wind and communicated to the buildings around. About dark 
they began to spread and get beyond the control of the brigade 
on duty within the city. The whole of Wood's division was 
brought in, but it was found impossible to check the flames, 
which by midnight had become unmanagable and raged until 
about 4 o'clock A. M., when the wind subsiding, they were 
got under control. * * * j disclaim on the part of my 
army any agency in this fire, but on the contrary claim that 
we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And with- 
out hesitation, I charge Gen. Wade Hampton with having 
burned his own city of Columbia; not with malicious intent, 
as the manifestation of a silly Roman stoicism, but from folly 
and want of sense in filling it with lint cotton and tinder. Our 
officers and men on duty worked well to extinguish the 


It would be difficult if not impossible to express in an equal 
number of paragraphs a greater number of falsehoods than are 
contained in the above extracts. There is not one word of 
truth in all that has been quoted, except the statement that 
"Gen. Wade Hampton commanded the rear-guard of the Con- 
federate cavalry." I did not order anj' cotton ''moved into 
the street and fired." On the contrary, m}' first act on taking 
command of the cavalry, to which I was assigned only the 
night before the evacuation of Columbia, was to represent to 
Gen. Beauregard, the danger to the town by firing the cotton 
in the streets. Upon this representation he authorized me to 
give orders that no cotton in the town should be fired, which 
order was strictly carried out. I left the city after the head 
of Sherman's column entered it, and I assert, what can be 
proved by thousands, that not one bale of cotton was on fire 
when he took possession of the city. His assertion to the con- 
trary is false, and he knows it to be so. A distinguished citizen 
of this State, whose name, were I at liberty to give it, would 
be a sufficient voucher even at the North, for the truth of any 
statement made by him, has given to the public a minute his- 
tory of the destruction of the city. From his document, 
which is too long for insertion in your paper, I make a few 
extracts which will show how true is Gen. Sherman's solemn 
disclaimer of "any agency in this fire" and his claim to have 
"saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed." The mayor 
had been informed that he would be notified when to surrender 
the city. Knowing that ineffectual resistance on our part 
would furnish the ready excuse for all lawlessness on the part 
of the enemy, I would not allow my troops to become engaged 
in the city, and they were withdrawn on the morning of the 
17th of February. At 9 o'clock A. M., on that day, the 
mayor, at the head of the deputation from the city council 
went out to meet Gen. Sherman for the purpose of ^urrender- 
ing the city, which he did in the following letter: 

Columbia, S. C, Feb. 17, 1865. 
To Major General Sherman: 

The Confederate i'orces having evacuated Columbia, I deem 
it my duty as mayor and representative of the city to ask for 


the citizens the treatment accorded by the usages of civilized 
warfare. I therefore respectfully request that you will send a 
sufficient guard in advance of the array to maintain order in 
the city and to protect the persons and property of the 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

[Signed.] T. J. GOODWYN, Mayor. 

The deputation met the advanced guard of the enemy under 
Col. Stone, 15th Corps, outside of the city, and Col. Stofie re- 
turned with them to the town in their carriage. The mayor 
reports that on surrendering the city to Col. Stone, the latter 
assurred him of the safety of the citizens and the protection of 
their property while ujider his command. He could not an- 
swer for Gen. Sherman, who was in the rear, but he expressed 
the conviction that he would fully confirm the assurances 
which he (Col. Stone) had given. Subsequently, Gen. Sher- 
man did confirm them, and that night, seeing that the mayor 
was exhausted by the labors of the day, he counselled him to 
retire to rest — saying, "Not a finger's breadth, Mr. Mayor, of 
your city shall be burned, you may lie down to sleep, satisfied 
that your town shall be as safe in my hands as if wholly in 
your own." * * * At about ii o'clock the head of the 
column reached Market Hall Hardly had the troops reached 
the head of Main street when the vsork of pillage was begun. 
Stores were broken open in the presence of thousands, within 
the first hour after their arrival. No attempt was made to 
stop the burglars. The authorities, officers, soldiers, all seemed 
to consider it a matter of course. And woe to him who carried 
a watch with gold chaiu pendant, or who wore a choice hat, 
or overcoat, or boots, or shoes. He was stripped by ready ex- 
perts "in the twinkling of an eye." * * * "About 12 
o'clock the jail was discovered to be on fire from within. This 
building was immediately in rear of the City or Market Hall, 
and in a densely built portion of the city. * * * Xhe fire 
in the jail had been preceded by that of some cotton piled in 
the streets. Both fires were soon subdued by our firevien. At 
about one and a half o'clock P. M. that of the jail was re- 
kindled, and was again extinguished. The experience of the 



Gen. Wade lampton. 


firemen in putting out the fire in the cotton and in the jail was of 
a sort to discourage their further efforts. They were thwarted 
and embarrassed by the continued interference of the soldiery. 
Finally their hose was chopped with swords and axes and 
pierced with bayonets, so as to be rendered useless. The en- 
gines were in some cases demolished also. And so the miser- 
able day wore on in pillage, insult and constant confusion and 
alarm. We have shown that the robbery of the persons of the 
citizens and plunder of their houses commenced within one 
hour after they reached the Market Hall. It continued with- 
out intermission throughout the day. Sherman traversed the 
streets everywhere; so did his officers, yet they saw nothing to 
rebuke or restrain. * * * Robbery was going on at every 
corner, in evsjry house, yet there was no censure, no punish- 
ment." ^ * * Among the first fires at evening, was one 
about dark, which broke out in a filthy portion of low houses 
occupied mostly as brothels. There were then some twenty 
fires in full blast in as many different quarters at nearly the 
same moment, and while the alarm sounded from these quar- 
ters, a similar alarm was sent up almost simultaneously from 
Cotton Town the northernmost limits of the city, and from 
Main street in its centre." * * * -'The wretches engaged 
in this appointed incendiarism were well prepared with all the 
appliances essential to their work. They carried with them 
from house to house pots and vessels containing combustible 
liquids and with balls of fire satuated in this liquid they con- 
veyed the flames with wonderful rapidity from dwelling- to 

"What remained from the morning, of engines and hose, were 
brought out by the firemen, but they were soon driven from 
their labors by the pertinacious hostility of the incendiaries. 
Kngiues were tumbled over and disabled, the hose was hewn 
to pieces, and the firemen dreading worse usage to themselves 
left the field in despair." ^ * H< "Old men, women and. 
children were to be seen often while the flames were rolling 
and raging around them, while walls were cracking and 
rafters tottering and tumbling, in the endeavor to save their 
clothing and some of their more valuable effects. They were 


driven out headlong by pistols clapped to their heads, violent 
hands laid on their throats and collar, and ruffians seemed to 
make but little distinction in their treatment of man and 
woman. I^adies were bustled from their chambers under the 
strong arm or with the menacing pistol at their hearts. Their 
ornaments plucked from their persons, their bundles from 
their hands." 

"A lady undergoing the pains of labor had to be borne out on 
a mattress into the open air to escape the fire. It was in vain 
that her situation was described to the incendiaries as they 
applied the torch within and without the house. They beheld 
the situation of the sufferer and laughed to scorn the prayer 
for safety. Another lady was but recently confined. Her life 
hung upon a hair. The demons were apprised of the facts in 
the case. They burst into her chamber, took rings from the 
lady's finger, plucked the watch from beneath her pillow 
shrieked offensive language in her ears, and so overwhelmed 
her with terror that she sank under the treatment, surviving 
but a day or two." 

"The churches were at first sought by many. Thither the 
hellish perseverance of the fiends followed them, and the 
churches of God were set on tire. Again driven forth, mem- 
bers made their way into the recesses of Sidney Park and here 
fancied to find security. But the ingenuity of hate and malice 

was not to be baffled, and firebrands thrown Tho: height into 

the deepest hollows of the Park taught the wretched fugitives to 
despair of any escape from enemies of such unwearied and unre- 
mitti7ig rage!^'' 

But enough of this atrocity, the bare recital of which makes 
humanity shudder and the heart grow sick. Surely enough 
has been quoted from the narrative of these horrors, to prove 
that Gen. Sherman is alone responsible for the destruction of 
Columbia, and for the many other atrocities committed by his 
army. He declares that the fires set by my order consumed 
the city. I have shown how false is this statement; but even 
were it true, how does he clear himself of the guilt of burn- 
ing private dwellings outside of the city limits? Early in the 
afternoon of the day he entered Columbia, my home, which 


was two miles fronj the city, was fired; soon after the 
houses of Mr. Trenholm, Gen. Lovell, Mrs. Stark, Dr. Wal- 
lace, Mr. Arthur, Mr. Latta, and Mrs. English, all in the 
same vicinity, shared the same fate. Gen. Sherman cannot 
deny that these houses were burned by his men, nor can he 
deny that he destroyed in part the villages of Barnwell, Bu- 
ford's Bridge, Orangeburg, Lexington, Alston, Pomaria, 
Winnsboro, Blackstock, Society Hill, Camden, and Cheraw. 
Does not the fate of the unoffending towns give the lie to his 
disclaimer of any agency in the burning of this city ? 

Along the line of march followed by him there is scarcely 
one house left standing from the Savannah river to the Pedee, 
and yet he dares to declare solemnly that he did not burn 
Columbia. I do not wonder that he should strive to escape 
the infamy, which, like the leprosy of Gehagi, shall cleave 
unto him and his seed forever, for the commission of this dark 
deed. Nor am I surprised that he should naturally seek to 
escape by taking refuge behind a falsehood. But he shall not 
with impunity make me the scape-goat for his sins. Wherever 
he has taken his army in this State, women have been insulted 
or outraged, old men have been hung to extort from them 
hidden treasure. The fruits of the earth have been destroyed, 
leaving starvation where plenty once reigned, and the dwell- 
ings of rich and poor alike have been laid in ashes. For these 
deeds history will brand him as a robber and incendiary and 
will deservedly "'damn him to everlasting fame." 
I am your obedient servant, 

Lieutenant General, C S. A. 

From "The New York Day Book," Saturday, July 15, 1865. 


The following is a copy of a letter brought to Miss F. 
Cantey, of Camden, from the Yankee camp, near that city. It 
is directed to Mrs. Thos. G. Myers, Boston, Mass., and was 
published in a Camden newspaper. It corroborates what was be- 
lieved at that time, that officers wore citizens' and privates' 
dress, in order to rob without compromising their shoulder 

South Carolina, Feb. 26, 1865. 

My Dear Wife: I have no time for particulars. We have 
had a glorious time in this State. Universal license to burn 
and plunder was the order of the day. The chivalry have 
been stript of most of their valuables. Gold watches, silver 
pitchers, cups, spoons, torks, etc., etc., are as common in 
camp as blackberries. The terms of plunder are as follows : 

The valuables procured we estimate by companies. Each 
company is required to exhibit the result of its operations at 
any given place. One- fifth and first choice falls to the share 
of the Commander-in-chief and staff, one-fifth to field officers 
of regiments, and three-fifths to the company. Officers are 
not allowed to join these expeditions without disguising them- 
selves as privates. One of our corps commanders borrowed a 
suit of rough clothes from one of my men and was successful 
in this place; he got a large quantity of silver, (among other 
things, an old time silver milk pitcher) and a very fine gold 
watch from a Mr. DeSaussure at this place. DeSaussure is a 
F. F. v., of South Carolina, and was made to fork over liber- 
ally. Officers over the rank of Captain are not made to put 
their plunder in the estimate for general distribution. This is 
very unfair, and for t.hat reason, in order to protect themselves^ 
subordinate officers and privates keep back everything that 
they can carry about their person, such as rings, ear-rings, 
breast-pins, etc.,, of which, if ever I live to get home, I have 
about a quart — I am not joking — 1 have at least a quart of 


jewelry for you and all the girls, and some No. i diamond 
rings and pins among them. 

Gen. Sherman has silver and gold enough to start a bank. 
His share in gold watches and chains alone at Columbia was 
two hundred and seventy-five (275); but I said I could not go 
into particulars. All the general officers and many privates 
had valuables of every description, even to ladies' embroidered 
pocket handkerchiefs (I have my share of them, too). We 
took gold and silver enough from the d-d rebels to have re- 
deemed their infernal currency twice over. This, (the cur- 
rency) whenever we come across it we burn as we consider it 
utterly worthless. I wish all the jewelry this army has could 
be carried to the old Bay State It would deck her out in glo- 
rious style, but alas! it will be scattered all over the North and 
Middle States. The d-d negroes, as a rule, prefer to stay at 
home, particularly after they found out that we only wanted 
ablebodied men (and, to tell you the truth, the youngest and 
best looking women). Sometimes we take off whole families 
and plantations of negroes by way of repaying the secessionists; 
but the useless part of these we soon manage to loose — some- 
times in crossing rivers — sometimes in other ways. 

I shall write to you again from Wilmington, Goldsboro, or 
some other place in North Carolina. The order to march has 
arrived and I must close hurriedly. 

Love to Grandmother and Aunt Charlotte. Take care of 
yourself and the children. Do not show this letter out of the 

Your affectionate husband, 

THOS. G. MYERS, Ueut., etc. 

P. S. — I will send this by flag of truce to be mailed unless I 
have a chance of sending it to Hilton Head. Tell Sallie I am 
saving a pearl bracelet and ear-rings for her; but Lambert got 
the necklace and breast-pin of the same set. I am trying to 
trade him out of them. These were taken from the Misses 
Jamieson, daughters of the President of the South Carolina 
Secession Convention. We found them on our trip through 


In 1866 Dr. D. H. Trezevant, one of the most highly es- 
teemed citizens of Columbia, wrote an account of the "De- 
struction of Columbia, "quoting from the books of Conyngham 
and Major Nichols, staff officers and historians of Gen. Sher- 
man. He quotes from account of Conyngham as follows: 

"Our march through the city was so orderly that even the 
Southerners began to bless their stars that the reign of terror 
was over, and that a reign of peace and security, like that at 
Savannah was about being inaugurated. Alas! that the scenes 
of the night should mar so auspicious a beginning." I spent 
the evening in the Capitol, looking over the archives and 
libraries. Part of Col. Stone's brigade — I think the 13th 
Ohio, Col. Kennedy's regiment — was on duty there. Towards 
night, crowds of our escaped prisoners, soldiers and negroes, 
intoxicated with their new-born liberty, which they looked 
upon as a license to do as they pleased, were parading the 
streets in groups." No mention as yet of any fires about the 
town, or any cotton having been found flying about, or on 
fire, but he writes : "As soon as night set in, there ensued a 
sad scene indeed." (This is the time Sherman reports that the 
fires were in full blast, and that he had called in the rest of 
Wood's division.) "The suburbs were first set on fire" — (by 
whom.'' the prisoners and soldiers and negroes for it was not 
within 500 yards of the cotton that Sherman saw burning,) 
^'some assert, by the burning cotton which the rebels had 
piled along the streets. Pillaging gangs soon fired the heart 
of the town, then entered the houses, in many instances, car- 
rying off articles of value. The flames soon burst out in all 
parts of the town," etc., etc. "I trust I shall never witness 
such a scene again — drunken soldiers rushing from house to 
house, emptying them of their valuables, and then firing 
them; negroes carrying off piles of booty, and grinning at the 
good chance and exulting like so many demons; ofl&cers and 


men revelling on the wines and liquors until the burning 
houses buried them in their drunken orgies." I think this 
looks very much like a city turned over to the soldiery to do 
with as they please; corresponds with what they said — that 
they were authorized first to sack, and then to burn it — that 
they, both officers and men, had so determined, and that it 
met with Old Bill's full approbation. "The frequent shots on 
every side told that some victim had fallen — shrieks and groans 
and cries of distress resounded from every side. A troop of 
cavalry — I think the 29th Missouri — were left to patrol the 
streets; but I did not once see them interfering with the groups 
that rushed about to fire and pillage the houses." Methinks 
after penning such a description, that there was no occasion to 
ask "who was to blame for the burning of Columbia." 

"There can be no denial of the assertion, that the feeling 
among the troops was one of extreme bitterness towards the 
people of the State of South Carolina, It was freely expressed 
as the column hurried over the bridge at Sister's ferry, eager 
to commence the punishment of original secessionists. Threat- 
ening words were heard from soldiers who prided themselves 
on conservatism in house-burning while in Georgia, and offi- 
cers openly confessed their fears that the coming campaign 
would be a wicked one. Just or unjust as this feeling was 
towards the country people in South Carolina, it was univer- 
sal. I first saw its fruits at Raryburg (Purisburg is meant), 
where two or three piles of blackened bricks and an acre or so 
of dying embers marked the site of an old revolutionary town; 
and this before the column had fairly got its hand in." 

At McBride's plantation, where Gen. Sherman had his 
headquarters, the outhouses, offices, shanties and surroundings 
were all set on fire before he left. I think the fire approaching 
the dwelling hastened his departure. If a house was empty, 
this v^ds prhna facie evidence that the owners were rebels, and 
all was sure to be consigned to the flames. If they remained 
at home it was taken for granted that every one in South Car- 
olina was a rebel, and the chances were the place was con- 
sumed. In Georgia few houses were burned; here few es- 
caped, and the country was converted into one vast bon- 


fire. The pine forests were fired; the resin factories were 
fired; the public buildings and private dwellings were fired. 
The middle of the finest day looked black and gloomy, for a 
dense smoke arose on all sides clouding the very heavens — at 
night the tall pine trees seemed so many huge pillars of fire. 
The flames hissed and screeched, as they fed on the fat resin 
and dry branches, imparting to the forest a most fearful ap- 

"Vandalism of this kind, though not encouraged, was sel- 
dom punished. True, where every one is guilty alike, there 
will be no informers." 

"The ruined homesteads of the Palmetto State will long be 
remembered. The army might safely march the darkest night, 
the crackling pine woods shooting up their columns of flame, 
and the burning houses along the way would light it on, while 
the dark clouds and pillars would safely cover its rears. I 
hazard nothmg in saying that three-fifths in value of the per- 
sonal property of the counties we have passed through, were 
taken b)' Sherman's army. The graves were even ransacked, 
etc. The scenes I witnessed in Columbia, were scenes that 
would have driven Alaric the Goth into frenzied ecstasies 
had be witnessed them." m 

"As for the wholesale burnings, pillage, devastation, commit- K 

ted in South Carolina, magnify all I have said of Georgia some ™ 

fifty fold, and then throw in an occasional murder, 'just to -jk' 

bring an old hardfisted cuss to his senses,' and you have a ^l 

pretty good idea of the whole thing. Besides compelling the ' i 

enemy to evacuate Charleston, we destioyed Columbia, Orange- ^^'^i 

burg, and several other places, also over fifty miles of railroad, '"'^' 

and thousands of bales of cotton." This is a very fair admis- 
sion, and we might rest here and go no farther. After what he 
has admitted to have been done on the route, to conclude the 
acts of the army by saying they had destroyed Columbia was 
giving up the question. On his mind there could have been 
no doubt as to who burnt the city, and as little as to who was 
the cause of its being burned. 

The enviable notoriety is certainly due to Sherman, and to 
him alone. Those who did the deed were mere agents, and 


acted to please a cherished commander; they all stated that 
they knew what Old Bill, (their pet name for him) wanted, 
and they were determined he should be gratified. . 

Major Nichols next presents himself, and as a staff" ofiicer of 
Gen. Sherman, we may suppose that ego etrex metis to be one. 
His account is very much the counterpart of Sherman's, but 
he has many remarks and admissions that are peculiarly ap- 
ropos to the subject, and calculated to lead one definitely to 
the object sought after, viz: "who is to blame for the burning 
of Columbia." Major Nichols remarks under the date of Jan- 
uary 30th: "The actual invasion of South Carolina has begun. 
The well known sight of columns of black smoke meets our 
gaze again; this time houses are burning, and South Carolina 
has commenced to pay an instalment, long overdue, on her 
debt to justice and humanity. With the help of God, we will 
have principal and interest before we leave her borders. There 
is a terrible gladness in the realization of so many hopes and 
wishes." Again, Nichols exclaims: "But here we are; and 
wherever our footsteps pass, fire, ashes and desolation follow 
in the path." In speaking of the occupation of the city, "On 
every side were evidences of disorder; bales of cotton scattered 
here and there, articles of merchandise and furniture cast pell 
mell in every direction by the frightened inhabitants, etc." 
But no mention of anything on fire. Nichols writes: "I began 
today's record early in the evening, and while writirg, I 
noticed an unusual glare in the sky and heard a sound of run- 
ning to and fro in the streets. Running out, I found to my 
surprise and real sorrow," (why so after the expressions used 
above?) "that the central part of the city, including the main 
business street, was in flames, while the wind, which had been 
blowing a hurricane all day, was driving the sparks and cin- 
ders in heavy masses over the eastern portion of the city where 
the finest residences are situated. Those buildings, all wooden, 
were i nstsntly ignited by the flying sparks. In half an 
hour the conflagration was raging in every direction, etc." It 
will be perceived that both Conyngham and Nichols state that 
the fire commenced in the evening, after dark, at the very 


time Sherman states it to have been so great that he had to 
call in Wood's division. It will be observed also, that Con- 
yngham, in his remarks, states "that Sherman and Howard, 
instead of looking after a single fire, when hundreds were 
burning around, had better have called in fresh troops and 
driven the drunkards out with steel and lead." And again, 
that he says, "about day Wood's division was called on, when 
nothing was left to pillage or burn." It is important to bear 
these facts in memory, as it will be seen that when Sherman 
gives an account of the catastrophe to free himself from blame, 
he changes the whole order of the affair and makes the fires to 
have been burning all day, but leaping into life and activity 
when the night came on, and requiring him to call for addi- 
tional assistance. Nichols says "Gen. Howard and his officers 
worked with their own hands until long after midnight, try- 
ing to save life and property;" we presume, for the purpose of 
having it presented to them, as he, Nichols has so naively de- 
tailed on page 204 — the manner in which silver goblets, etc. , 
had found their way into the camp. 

Nichols proceeds and states: "Various causes are assigned 
to explain the origin of the fire. I am quite sure that it orig- 
inated in sparks flying from the hundreds of bales of cotton 
which the rebels had placed along the middle of the main 
street, and fired as they left the city." This is mere assertion; 
no proof of the fact has been offered; the number is exager- 
ated, there being not more than fifty bales, and from their own 
statements, there is every reason to believe that it was not so. 
It is positively certain that up to half-past eleven o'clock, 
there had been no fire in the city; and then it had been under 
the command of Col. Stone for fully one hour. Again, he 
says: "There were fires, however, which must have been 
started independent of the above named cause. The source of 
these is ascribed to the desire for revenge from some 200 of 
our prisoners who had escaped from the cars as they were be- 
ing conveyed from this city to Charlotte, etc." Again, it is 
said that "the soldiers who first entered the town, intoxicated 
with success and a liberal supply of bad liquor, etc. , set fire to 
unoccupied houses." There has never been any proof offered 


as to the cotton having been fired by Hampton's orders, or by 
his men. It stands alone upon the authority of Gen. Sher- 
man's z/^i'.? dixit. Col. Stone, who had the best opportunity of 
judging of the fact, has lately been appealed to, but has made 
no such report. His evidence has ten times the weight o f 
Sherman's assertion, as he was the first to enter, passed 
through the main street, went by the cotton and saw it, and 
left his men at that very spot. From thence he went to the 
Capitol with Alderman Stork. The men left, occupied them- 
selves as men will do, by lounging about the cotton, laying oq 
it and smoking, and whilst doing so, the cotton was discovered 
to be on fire about one hour after they had been there. 

Nichols proceeds with his narrative and writes: "Houses 
have unquestionably been burned during our march, but they 
were the property of notorious rebels who were fortunate in 
escaping* so easily; while I have yet to hear of a single instance 
of outrage offered to a woman or a child by any soldier of our 
army." We do not know what Major Nichols may consider 
an outrage, but for a man to catch a lady by the throat, and 
thrust his hand into her bosom to feel for her watch, or purse, 
would in former days have been regarded as such. So would 
the lifting up of a lady's dress, because she was not quick 
enough in freeing her purse from her girdle, the threats of 
death and a pistol at her head having alarmed her and caused 
her to give. I should hardly suppose that even in such an 
army as was led by Sherman, it would have been considered 
very chivalric to place a pistol at a lady's breast, and demand 
her watch and jewels, while another companioa put another to 
the head of her daughter and demanded the same. Nor would 
I deem that man entitled to admission in civilized society, who 
would insult the feelings of a lady by taking a negro wench to 
a room, opposite to sleeping apartment of herself and daugh- 
ter, and remain there with her all night; and upon going away 
with her in the morning, steal everything he could lay his 
hands on. This was done by one Capt. W. T. Duglass, a com- 
missary under Gen. Blair. His name was given to the ladies 
by his indignant clerk, with a request that it and the transac- 
tion, should be published, and the blackguard be held up as 


an example to the community, and for public condemnation. 

But what shall I say of the villain who fired the house of a 

lone woman, and then in the presence of the lady took hold of 

her maid and compelled her to be subservient to his brutal 

wishes? Words are wanting properly to designate such an 

act, and we can only say it would have disgraced even Butler, 

the beast. Yet those acts were committed in many of the 

houses; in some instances done by officers as well as men. 

I will give one extract more from Nichols and then turn, to 
his commander, who was the source from which the foul slan- 
der emanated, and see on what authority he makes his charge. 
"In the record of great wars we read of vast armies marching 
'through an enemy's country, carrying death and destruction 
in their path; of villages burned, cities pillaged, a triJDe or a 
nation swept out of existence. History, however, will be 
searched in vain for a parallel to the scathing and destructive 
effect of the invasion of the Carolinas." "Putting aside the 
mere military question for a moment, there are considerations 
which, overleaping the present generation, affect the future 
.existence of the section of the country through which our 
.-army has marched!" "Over a region forty miles in width 
stretching from Savannah to Port Royal through South Caro- 
lina to Goldsboro in North Carolina, agriculture and com- 
merce, even if peace come speedily, cannot be fully revived in 
our day." "Day by day our legions of armed men surged 
over the land, destroying its substance. Cattle were gathered 
into increasing droves; fresh horses and mules were taken to 
replace the lame and feeble animals; rich granaries and store- 
Siouses were stripped of corn, fodder, meal and flour; cotton 
gins, presses, factories and mills were burned to the ground, 
on every side; the head, centre and rear of our column might 
be traced by columns of smoke by day and by the glare of fires 
by night.'' "In all the length and breath of that broad path- 
way the burning hand of war pressed heavily, blasting and 
withering where it fell." And such was the act of a band of 
brothers, anxious for the return of the South to the Union, to 
restore the friendly relations between the two sections of 


country. Such were the means used to bring about fraternal 

concord, to reunite a mistaken people, to restore them to their 

pristine condition, and insure a lasting peace. It was a most 

extraordinary device — one worthy of Sherman from whom it 

emanated, but it really seems more in unison with, the views 

of the officer, who, while wishing them all in hell, yet was 

determined to "smelt them back into the Union." 

* * * ^ * ^ >}< 

From the subordinates, let me now turn to the great leader^ 
whose word was law. and whose nod was destiny. lyct us see 
what Sherman says as to "who is to blame for the burning of 
Columbia." In the frequent conversations which Sherman had 
with the inhabitants of the town, he uniformly attributed its 
destruction to the whiskey which his men obtained, and their 
subsequent intoxication. In no instance that I ha^e ever 
heard, did he attribute it to Gen. Hampton, nor in his letters, 
did he deny his complicity in the affair, until his report to the 
General Government; then, for the first time, we learned that 
Gen. Sherman disclaimed having had anything to do with its 
destruction; that on the contrary, he ordered it not to be burnt. 
Such having been the fact, it certainly was very unfortunate 
for the citizens of Columbia, that the General's views should 
have been so much misunderstood, and that all the soldiers 
and officers who came into the city, were under the impression 
it was a doomed cit}^ and was to be given up to pillage until 
night; and then at a signal given, it was to be burnt. Such 
undoubtedly was the prevailing opinion, and a nervous rest- 
lessness was to be observed about them, an anxious looking 
out for an expected event, which they instantly recognized 
and hailed when the rockets were thrown up, and immediately 
proceeded to their task. That Gen. Sherman had given his 
orders to Gen. Howard to burn all the public buildings, by 
which he meant all that had been used in the Confederate 
service, he himself, acknowledges. That he did so before he 
entered the town, or became acquainted with their position, is 
also certain; that they were so situated, that their cremation 
would end in one general conflagration, was patent to every 
one, and the order given for their destruction was, as a matter 


of course, an order for the destruction of the city; that Gen. 
Sherman gave that order he has himself recorded; but in no 
place has he shown where the order ever was countermanded, 
or where regarding the safety of the city he had guaranteed, 
with such a wind as was blowing, that he sought the means 
to prevent the catastrophe. From the statement of his officers, 
it was certain that he made no effort to do so — and absolutely 
certain that he allowed the very corps who had exhibited the 
greatest animosity, and uttered the most violent threats to en- 
ter the city, remain in it when drunk, and continue there until 
its destruction was completed, or as Conyngham writes "until 
there was nothing more to pilfer or burn," The same men 
who were detailed to destroy it, entered with the belief that it 
would be peculiarly agreeable to him, as Gen, Howard says. 
They stated such to be their intention. Stated that their 
oiders were on the appearance of a certain signal, the rockets, 
that they were to fire and pillage, and to continue until the 
bugle's sound countermanded the orders, aiad called in the in- 
cendiaries. Such were the facts stated by hundreds of the 
soldiers, and officers as early as 12 o'clock in the day, and such 
were the facts that developed themselves on the approach of 
the evening. Gen. Sherman in his remarks to the Secretary 
of War, endeavors to exculpate himself, and to fix the terrible 
accident on another. It is ray object now to state the charge 
of the General, and to show to the world that it was not true; 
and that from all the incidents previous, and subsequent to his 
entrance into Columbia, he himself and no other was the cause 
of the destruction of the city of Columbia. 

He writes: "In anticipation of the occupation of the city, I 
had made written orders to Gen. Howard touching the con- 
duct of the troops. These were to destroy absolutely all 
arsenals and public property uot needed for our own use, as 
well as railroads, depots and machinery, useful in war to an 
enemy; but to spare all dv/ellings, colleges, schools, asylum, 
and harmless property. I was the first to cross the pontoon- 
bridge, and in comjiany with Gen. Howard rode into the city. 
The day was clear, but a perfect tempest of wind was raging. 
The brigade of Col. Stone was already in the city and was 


properly posted. Citizens and soldiers were on the streets, and 
general good order prevailed. Gen. Wade Hampton, who 
commanded the Confederate rear guard of calvary, had in an- 
ticipation of the capture of Columbia, ordered that all cotton, 
public and private, should be moved into the streets and fired, 
to prevent our making use of it. Bales were piled everywhere, 
the rope and bagging cut, and tufts of cotton were blown about 
in the wind, lodged in the trees and against houses, so as to 
resemble a snow storm. Some of these piles of cotton were 
burning, especially, one in the very heart of the city, near the 
Court House, but the fire was partially subdued by the labors 
of our soldiers. Before one single public building had been 
fired by order, the smouldering fires set by Hampton's orders 
were rekindled by the wind and communicated to the build- 
ings around. About dark, they began to spread and got be- 
yond the control of the brigade on duty within the city. The 
whole of Wood's division was brought in, but it was found 
impossible to check the flames, w'nich, by midnight, became 
unmanageable, and raged until about 4 A. M., when the wind 
subsiding, they were got under control." "I was up ready all 
night, and saw Gens Howard, Logan, Wood, and others, 
laboring to save houses, etc., etc." "I disclaim on the part of 
my army any agency in this fire, but on the contrary, claim 
that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And 
without hesitation, I charge Gen. Wade Hampton with hav- 
ing burned his own city of Columbia, not with a malicious in- 
tent, or as the manifestation of a silly "Roman stoicism," but 
from folly and want of sense, in filling it with lint cotton and 
tinder. Our officers and men on duty worked well to extin- 
guish the flames; but others not on duty, including the officers 
who had long been imprisoned there, rescued by us, may have 
assisted in spreading the fire, and may have indulged in un- 
concealed joy to see the ruins of the capital of South Carolina.' ' 

Sherman says "the brigade of Col. Stone was already in the 
city and properly posted — citizens and soldiers were in the 
street together, and general good order prevailed." Except in 
their stealing, such was the fact and continued so until after 


dark wheu the rockets were discharged, and then the whole 
scene changed. (See Conyngham's and Nichol's account of 
the conduct of the troops, etc., at that time.) What was it 
that changed the orderly soldier obedient to his commander, to 
the midnight assassin, robber and house-burner? Three rockets 
discharged — the signal agreed on when as the soldiers said 
"Hell was to be let loose and the city wrapped in flames." 
But let me take Sherman up in the order of his report. "Gen. 
Hampton, who commanded, etc. , ordered that all cotton should 
be moved in the streets and fired to prevent our making use 
ot it." 

In his letter to Rawls, Sherman says that in the printed 
order which he saw, Hampton ordered "that on the approach 
of the Yankee army all the cotton should be burned." This 
order which he says he saw, and worded as above is the proof 
that he offeres of Gen. Hampton having burned the town. He 
has no other. It is the ground of the whole charge, and the 
one on which all his allegations are founded. Were I to grant 
that an order had been given by Hampton, it would become 
necessary for Gen. Sherman to prove that the one he had 
named was the identical one; and that it gave the direction, 
and authority to act, which Sherman states; but I am not dis- 
posed to cede so much, and I think it can be made apparant, 
that though in his name, the oraer did no: emenate from him 
— that he sought to have it countermanded, succeeded in so 
doing, and had it stopped. That order is dated 

Headquarters, Feb. 14, 1865. 
[Special Order No. ] 

All persons having cotton stored in the city of Columbia ar** 
directed to have it placed where it can be burned in case of 
necessity without danger of destroying buildings. All cotton 
stored here will be burned at any cost rather than allow it to 
fall in the hands of the enemy. By order of 

R. LOWNDES, CAPT. and A. A. G 

February 15th. 

I think it will be difficult to show in that order, any direc- 


tions to roll the cotton into the streets, or to fire it upon the 
approach of the Yankee army. It contains nothing of the 
kind; it is a precautionary order to be acted on if a necessity 
should occur. Gen. Sherman was too well acquainted with 
what was transpiring in the army of his opponent, not to know 
that Gen.. Hampton at the time that order was given was not 
in command — that order is dated on the 14th. Gen. Hampton 
was put in command on the night of the i6th; he therefore 
could have had no authority to issue such a one; he was only 
assisting Beauregard. How that order was printed in his 
name I know not, and cannot therefore speak. I presume it 
could be explained, but for my purposes it is not necessary. It 
unquestionably is not such an order as Sherman stated that he 
saw — no rolling into the streets — and by it no one was author- 
ized to fire the cotton. It was one of precaution, to be acted 
on under a contingency, and of that contingency Gen. Hamp- 
ton was to be the judge. No authority was given to any one 
to burn it, nor could it have been burnt but by the order of 
Hampton, who was to judge of the necessity. That he did not 
issue that order is to my mind very plain, for if he had done 
so, he would have had the same power that gave the order, 
to authorize him to withdraw it; but it seems he felt that he 
had not, for immediately upon taking his command as Lieu- 
tenant General, he applied to Beauregard to get the order 
countermanded, as will be seen by the following correspond- 
ence. Gen. Hampton writes to Gen. Beauregard as follows: 

April 22, 1866. 
"Gen. Sherman having charged me in his ofiicial report with 
the destruction of Columbia, and having reiterated the same 
falsehood in a recent letter to Bejamin Rawls of that city, may 
I beg you to state such facts in reference to this matter as are 
in your possession. If you recollect, I advised you on the 
morning the Yankees came in, not to burn the cotton as this 
would endanger the town. I stated that as they had destroyed 
the railroad they could not remove the cotton. Upon this 
representation you directed me to issue an order that the cot- 
ton should not be burned. This I did at once, and there was 
not a bale on fire when the Yankees came into the town. You 


saw the cotton as you left the city, and you can state that 
none was on fire. 

Very respectfully yours, 

W. H. 
To Gen. Beauregard. 

To which Gen. Beauregard returned the following answer 
endorsed on the letter: 

N. O., May 2, 1866. 
The above statement of Gen. Hampton relative to the order 
issued by me at Columbia, S. C, not to burn the cotton in 
that city is perfectly true and correct. The only thing on fire 
at the time of the evacuation was the depot building of the 
S. C. R. R.5 which caught fire accidentally from the explosion 
of some ammunition ordered to be sent towards Charlotte, N. C. 


I have thus fairly shown that Gen. Hampton gave no such 
order to fire the cotton as Sherman states, nor was its burning 
attributable to any of his men, or the citizens; but, that it 
originated from the acts of Serman's own men, and probably 
from the very ones who had been detailed for the purpose, and 
felt that they were performing an acceptable service to their 
General. I will also state here a part of a conversation which 
took place between Gen. Hov^^ard and Mr. Shand on the 
burning of Columbia, to which I have elsewhere alluded, and 
will use the very words spoken. Gen. Howard expressed his 
regret at the occurrence and added the following words: 
"Though Gen. Sherman did not order the burning of the 
town, 5'et somehow or other the men had taken up the idea 
that if they destroyed the capital of South Carolina, it 
would be peculiarly gratifying to Gen. Sherman." Mr. Shand 

"The fire was wholly put out by i o'clock P. M., and from 
that hour until between 7 and 8 o'clock P. M., there was no 
other fire in the < ity, and the burning of said cotton, there- 
fore, had nothing to with the subsequent conflagration and 
destruction of the town. At the hour last mentioned rockets 
were seen to ascend and immediately thereafter a fire broke 


out in a central portion of the city near the market, and the 
wind being still exceedingly high, it soon assumed alarming 
proportions. I stood in ray front piazza watching it with 
much anxiety and though inclined at first to regard its origin 
as accidental, I was soon undeceived. The fire occured, as I 
said, in a central part of the city and to the north of my resi- 
dence, but I had been looking upon it but for a short time 
when I noticed fresh flames bursting out in the east, west and 
south, at points very distant from each other and not possibly 
caused by the communication of flames from one to the other. 
The revelry of soldiers in the streets and their shouts and ex- 
ultation, as fresh rockets went up, and fresh buildings took 
fire, scenes, which to some extent, came under my own obser- 
vation, added to the awful character of the occasion and gave 
rise to the painful impression that the city was doomed to des- 
olation and ruin; a fact which was admitted and boasted of by 
some of the soldiers themselves. By midnight the whole city 
presented one vast sheet of flames, and in the midst, and during 
the progress of the appalling calamity, mighf be heard above 
all other noise, the demoniac and gladsome shouts of the sol- 
diery." He further speaks of efforts made to burn his house, 
their success and their brutal treatment of himself and robbery 
of the church plate, etc. 

Sherman says "the whole of Wood's division was brought 
in, but it was found impossible to check the flames which by 
midnight had become unmanageable and raged until about 4 
A. M., when the wind subsiding, they were got under con- 
trol." All correct, except one little item, viz.: That Wood's 
division was not called in until between three and four, and 
they did not fail, but arrested it immediately. Gen. Sherman 
has been very forgetful of hours in this statement; Wood's 
division was not called in until morning, and their being called 
in arose from a little incident which I will presently mention. 
Conyngham bears me out in the assertion. He says "this 
scene continued until near morning, and then the town was 
cleared out, when there was nothing more to pillage or burn." 
Sherman says, ''I was up nearly all night, and saw Gens. 


Howard, Logan, Wood and others, laboring to save houses, 
etc." I do not question there were many circumstances cal- 
culated to render Sherman's rest disturbed, but why he and 
Howard and Logan and Wood should have tried to save houses 
rather mystifies me. Sherman had ordered the place to be 
burnt — Howard was carrying it out — Logan was in favor of the 
measure, and after he had left Columbia, declared, if it was to 
be done again, that he would do it more effectually. He also 
ordered Preston's house to be destroyed. Wood, it would seem, 
had the command of the forces about the town; and the Yankee 
writers state, could have prevented, or have arrested it at any 
time had he thought proper. ^, 

* * * :^ * * >tc 

That Sherman ordered the destruction of the city, his sol- 
diers did not hesitate to aver. As soon as they came in, they 
stated that the city would be burned. That it was settled on 
the other side of the river between the ofl&cers and themselves. 
That a signal would be given, and then the citizens would 
"see hell." Gen. Sherman says he disclaims "on the part of 
my army, any agency in this fire;" but on t.'ie contrary, claims 
that "we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed." 

After the facts, which I have just stated, I think it will be 
difficult for any one to give credit to the disclaimer. But as to 
the saving of what is left of Columbia unconsumed, there is no 
question that he is entitled to that credit, for after the signal 
rockets, and until Wood's division was called in, between three 
and four in the morning, the citj' was burning with fearful 
rapidity; while after the order was given to Andrews, and the 
bugles' sound called the incendiaries from their work of infamy, 
all became changed. The fire was arrested; no more houses 
were ignited; and the destruction of the place ceased. Sher- 
man therefore did put an end to the fire, and certainly saved, 
by his Older, "the remnant of the once rich and flourishing 
city." But subsequent events tended to show that he regret- 
ted his fit ot benevolence. There can be but little doubt that 
there was an intention to burn the balance when they left; 
McGregor's house was fired at 4 o'clock, P. M., on Saturday. 
Latta's and English's were destroyed on Sunday. Preston's 


house was ordered for the closing scene on Monday, as soon as 
Gen. Logan should leave; and its destruction was only pre- 
vented by an accidental circumstance. Maj. Fitzgibbon, who 
felt interested in the condition of the nuns, called on and asked 
if he could assist them. They stated that they had Sherman's 
promise of protection. He inquired if it was in writing; they 
replied no, it was only a verbal promise. He urged them to 
have a written one and offered to carry their request if they 
would write a letter to Sherman. He was so urgent, and as 
he stated that the night would be one of horrors, that they 
wrote to Gen. Sherman, Fitzgibbon, carried the note, and« 
brought them back a written protection, together with guards' 
for their property. His language indicated his belief that the 
destruction of the city would be effected that night. Sher- 
man's protection, however, did not assist them. Their estab- 
lishment was destroj'ed, and they and their helpless charge of 
young girls spent the night in the church yard. Some ladies 
seeing their condition, called on Sherman, represented their 
condition, and urged upon him to render them assistance. He 
called in the morning, saw the Mother Superior, expressed his 
deep regret at their loss and troubled condition, stated that it 
arose trom no act of his, that the conflagration resulted from 
the liquor which his soldiers had obtained; that they had be- 
come intoxicated and unmanageable; and concluded by offering 
to give them any house in Columbia they might choose to se- 
lect for their establishment. 

He desired his Adjutant, Col. Charles Ewing, to attend to 
their wants and see that they were made comfortable. That 
gentleman called often and tried to render their situation more 
pleasant, and on the eve of his departure, he introduced Capt. 
Cornyn, the commissary, to them, who was to arrange with 
them as to^ their rations. In the course of the conversation, 
Ewing reminded them of Gen. Sherman's offer to give thetn 
any house they would select and urged them to accept it; they 
replied they had thought of it, and would select Gen. Preston's 
house as being the largest in the town. Ewing replied "that 
is where Gen. Logan holds his headquarters; and that house is 
ordered to be burned. I know that it will be burned tomor- 


row; but, if you will say that you will take it, I will see the 
General (he was Sherman's brother-in-law) and get the order 
countermanded." On the next morning, Capt. Cornyn called 
and told the nuns that the army was moving in haste, and 
that Gen. Sherman had left the city about four in the morn- 
ing. They asked if he could tell them whether the order to 
burn the house had been countermanded or one given for them 
to take possession. He could not. After many inquiries, 
they found that Gen. Perry had the command of the place, 
and that his orders were to burn the house at a certain hour, 
unless they, the nuns, were in absolute possession; but he sent 
tiiem word if but a part of them came in he would spare it for 
their sake. Two of them moved in and found the fires all 
prepared and everything in readiness to burn or blow up the 
buildiag. The negroes were moving out the bedding, blank- 
ets, etc., before it should be destroyed. Here then is rather 
positive proof that Gen. Sherman paid no respect to his pledge 
concerning private property. He had pledged himself to the 
Mayor that person and property should be respected, but here, 
two days after they had held the city, without anj' reason that 
could be assigned, he orders a large and costly house to be 
burnt, simply because he had the power to show his authority 
and vent his spleen. Other houses were burnt at the time 
that was destroyed, and we have reason, therefore, to suppose 
that the man who ordered the one, had also given directions 
for the other. 

The Rev. William Yates states: "I was in the yard when 
that fatal rocket went up and one of the men exclaimed 'now 
you will see hell.' I asked him what it meant, and his reply 
was: 'That is the signal for a general setting of fire to the 
city,' and immediately after numbers of fires could be seen in 
every direction." This was at Gen. Blair's headquarters and 
from one of his men. Mr. Shand satv them attempt to fire 
one of his out-houses, and saw them destroy the cotton. Mr. 
Oliver saw them set fire to Mrs. I^aw's house, turn Mr. Reck- 
ling's wife and child out of his home, and fire it, and also 
witnessed their firing the cotton. Alderman Stork saw them 


fire the cotton in the street and also witnessed the destruction 
of Bates' and Oliver's house. They told Capt Stanley that 
they would "give them hell to night;" that they would burn 
the city, and that the arrangements were all made over the 
river before they came in. Capt. Shand was the Captain of 
one of the fire companies, and whilst working at the fire in 
the rear of the Commercial Bank, fifteen or twenty armed sol- 
diers forcibly took possession of the hose, stuck their bayonets 
into them, carried off the pipes, and beat in the air vessels of 
the engine. He saw soldiers set fire to the Mutual Supply 
Association Store. Capt. Pratt, who came in with the Mayor 
and Col. Stone, told Alderman McKenzie, who showed him 
some cotton, that he wished he had burnt it and saved them 
the trouble ks they "never left any of that." Mr. McKenzie, 
as captain of one of the fire companies worked at the burning 
cotton about half past eleven, and continued to do so, until it 
was completely extinguished. He also assisted in arresting 
the fire at the jail, which he thinks was fired by one of the 
inmates. His firm conviction is that the city v^^as fired by 
Sherman's men and through his directions. Mr. Bedell states 
that the Yankees set fire to his dwelling house, and that all he 
could do, could not prevent them from effecting their purpose 
of burning it. Mrs. McDonald saw the Yankee soldiers break 
open Mr. Pelham's door and fire his house; Mrs. Squiers saw 
the teamsters set fire to the cotton opposite DeSausure's; she 
and her family put it out; that was about half past five in the 
afternoon. She saw the rockets go up, and immediately after, 
fires were to be seen in every direction. She confirms 
what others state, that Bates and Oliver's establishments were 
fired in the rear, and the fire from those houses spread to the 
opposite side of the street. Her own house was fired by cotton 
steeped in turpentine, placed on rods and put upon the roof. 
Mrs. Friedeberg's house and DeSausure's were all fired about 
the same time. Mr. Altee says he saw the Yankee soldiers 
going about and firing the houses on Bridge street and near 
his own — The3' twice fired his, but he was fortunate enough to 
get it extinguished. In one case, it is probable that the enemy 
would have added murder to their other crimes. A sergeant 


and three privates went to the residence of F. G. DeFontaine, 
Esq., the editor of the Daily South Carolinian, and demanded 
of the servants where he was to be found. The latter being 
unable to give the information, one of the men replied — damn 
him, its well for him that he isn't here, for we'd burn him in 
his den. Then, after ransacking the library, papers, etc., 
with a lighted candle they ignited the wood work on the place 
and left it to burn. 

* * >i< * ^ * >i< 

A gentleman of Columbia called upon Sherman on the night 
of the fire to get a guard for the protection of his family and 
house which was much exposed. He could not see Sherman, 
but met with Capt. Merrill, who told him that Sherman had 
given orders to admit no one, and that his seeing him would 
make no difference, for "Sherman did not care a damn if the 
whole city was in ashes." I will now bring this article to a 
close, after making a few remarks on the burning of the gas 
works by Gen. Howard under, I may say, the express orders 
of Gen. Sherman, for such it had every appearance to have 
been. Mr. Jas. G. Gibbes heard that the gas works were to 
be burnt. As this was altogether private property, could have 
no bearing on the conduct of the war and was not a building 
useful in war to an enemy; as Gen. Sherman had promised 
protection to all private property — colleges, schools, harmless 
houses, etc., it was thought that such an establishment ought 
not to be injured, and that having deprived the citizens of 
their arms, wood, water, provisions, and every means of pro- 
curing, them by the burning of all the mills and the stealing of 
all the wagons and horses, they might at least have light 
spared to them, to enable them to take care of their children 
who had been so cruelly thrown out of their homes and de- 
prived of every necessary. This gentleman hearing that Gen. 
Howard had the ordering of its destruction went to him, and 
remonstrated with him upon the cruelty of such a measure; 
depicted the distress 'it would occasion, and the utter wanton- 
ness of destroying such a building. Howard replied that he 
saw no reason why that should not be burnt as well as the 
other buildings. He was then requested to postpone its firing 


until Sherman could be appealed to; he told him he would 
see Sherman himself; the gentleman asked permission to go 
with him, as he, Gen. Howard, being in favor of burning, he 
would not be likely to prove a warm advocate; he declined 
permission, but said he would see Sherman and try and get 
the order countermanded. After such a promise we presume 
he did call on Sherman and endeavor to change his determina- 
tion. The gas works were however burnt, and we have a 
right to presume that Sherman gave the order for their 
destruction, and refused to countermand it. He therefore 
violated his pledge of protection to the citizen and his property, 
and committed an act of as wanton destruction as ever was done 
by man. The burning of those works, the order to burn 
Preston's house, the destruction of Mrs. English's, I,atta's 
and hosts of other houses and the utter devastation of the 
whole country from Columbia to North Carolina, makes him 
one of the most ruthless invaders that ever cursed the earth by 
his presence. Attila or Alaric shrink into insignificance when 
compared with him; and Nichols was right in saying "that you 
will in vain search history for a parallel to the scathing and 
destructive effect of the invasion of the Carolinas." I have 
elsewhere shown that neither Sherman nor any of his officers 
had attributed the burning of the city to aught else than the 
inebriation of the soldiers; and up to the 4th of April, the date 
of his report to the Secretary of War, no accusation had been 
made against Hampton. That the charge then brought for- 
ward was an after thought, all the antecedents tend to prove. 
He spoke of the burning as arising from the intoxication of his 
men — yet on his route through the country, after leaving 
Columbia, he carried out the system he commenced at the 
bridges below, and kept up during his march to the capital. In 
his letter to Wheeler he avows his intention to burn all the cot- 
ton, and also his utter disregard as to what became of the 
dwellings of the planters. (See Wheeler's letter to Howard 
and Sherman's reply.) To talk of empty houses was ridicu- 
lous; from necessity, those houses could have no occupants, 
though the furniture and slaves evidenced their being cared 
for, and in fact inhabited. In his letter to Hampton of the 


27th of February, relative to the prisoners being shot, etc., he 
makes no allusion to Columbia; and when Hampton replied, 
denying all knowledge of any prisoners who were shot after 
having been taken, he charges Sherman with having burned 
the city of Columbia after he had peaceable possession of it, 
and of other matter contrary to the usage of civilized nations. 
To this charge Gen. Sherman never replied. At that time he, 
the great conqueror, never dreamed of being assailed; but, to 
his astonishment, he found the reverse. At that time he rather 
looked upon the burning of Columbia as the crowning act of 
his glory, and for the destruction of our capital he expected 
something like deification; nor did he awake from his delusion 
until the rude act of the Secretary of War aroused him from 
his reverie, and he began to think that he had carried his de- 
sire of vengeance too far, and it would be advisable that some 
cause should be shown to the Government why such an atroc- 
ity had been perpetrated. It was then he thought of the order 
he had seen, made his arrangements accordingly, and became 
satisfied that the city was fully on fire before he gave the order 
to burn it down through the destruction of the public build- 
ings. Posterity will not be as blind as the present race; their 
passions will not be excited, and they will acknowledge that 
Carolina fought, and nobly fought, for a right that she and all 
the States were entitled to, and had ever claimed; and that, in 
the infamous desire to crush out her love of liberty and State 
sovereignty the demon of centralization has been unchained, 
which, like the tiger, revelled in blood and destruction, and 
would continue so to do until nothing of liberty or civil rights 
was left to the consolidated, but enslaved nation. 

I trust that I have answered Conyngham's question; re- 
moved the slander attempted to be cast on Gen. Hampton by 
Sherman and his satellites; proved thatTecumseh Sherman was 
the incendiary, and he, and he alone, is responsible for the terri- 
ble destruction that has been occasioned, and the retarding of 
prosperity for the next fifty years. To his God I nov»^ leave 
the miserable wretch, in the full belief that he will meet with 
such punishment as his atrocious acts have merited. 

Having finished with Gen. Sherman and his fetes of arson, 


let me turn to a few remarks of Maj. Nichols, in which, con-~ 
trary to good taste, as well as civility and truth, he attempts 
to libel the character of the Carolinians. I^et me review the' 
statements and the comments he has ventured to indulge in, 
and I think they will tend fully to portray, not only a vile ani- 
mus, but a miserable baseness of mind. I cannot leave the 
subject without exhibiting some of his wondrous qualities and 

A portion of what he narrates, he has seen and heard. But 
when he gives such a description of Hampton, as he has done 
on page 311, we are compelled to say that he was not ac- 
quainted with the man. Of all persons whom I have ever 
known, and I have known him since infancy, he is the most 
uniform and imperturbable in his temper. No one ever saw 
him give way to passion; his face isoneof remarkable quietude 
and repose, and he is rather reticent than otherwise. In his 
manner there is a calmness and serenity that strikes every one 
as the predominant characteristic, and a cheerful beaming of 
the eye that makes the countenance agreeable. You may see de- 
termination to do what he considers a duty; but you need never 
expect to see restless anxiety or fuss. He is the last being to 
whom we should have expected such terms to be applied as 
"fanfaronade," etc. Nichols certainly n\ade a mistake here, 
and had his friend Kilpatrick in his mind when he drew that 
picture. He must have recollected the appearance of that 
oflBcer as Bombastes Furioso, challenging Wheeler out to fight 
and imagined that he saw "le petit General," with a flag in his 
hand, calling over to Wheeler's men, in stentorian voice, 
"Come out now, you set of cowardly skunks; you claim that 
you whip Kilpatrick every time, come out now and try it; and 
I'll not leave enough of you to thrash a corporal's guard. I 
am Kill himself." We almost looked for the boots and the 
well known distich and supposed they might have been hung 
up, if they had ^ot been lost in some of his hurried move - 
ments; such as occurred when surprised by Hampton, and in 
dishabille, he ran for the woods, leaving his Yankee doxy to 
follow as she could. There are several other remarks of 
Nichol's that ought to be noticed. Several soldiers were found 


on the road-side, who had been killed, either by the citizens 
or by Confederate soldiers. They belonged to a gang who had 
been firing and pillaging the , country in every direction, and 
simply met the fate they deserved. The virtuous indignation 
of the Generals is aroused and Sherman gives Kilpatrick or- 
ders to hang and shoot prisoners who fall into his hands, to 
any extent he considers necessary. Nichol's fired on the oc- 
casion, calls out: "Shame on Beauregard and Hampton and 
Butler," and asks, "Has the blood of their father's become so 
corrupted that the sons are cowardly assassins. If this mur- 
derous game is continued by their friends, they will bitterly 
rue the day it was begun." Without knowing why or where- 
fore those men were punished, an order is given for the hana^- 
ing of the prisoners, though Sherman, when alluding to the 
circumstance, acknowledges that his foragers committed many 
acts of atrocity. To the question as to the corruption of the 
blood of the fathers leaving the sons assassins, I have only to 
say, if Nichols wishes an answer, he need only ask the ques- 
tion personally, and he can test the condition of consanguinity. 
Men who have been employed in burning up the country, rob- 
bing the houses and turning out the families, to burn their 
dwellings, are to pass unmolested, because they wear the blue 
uniform of Sherman's thieves; but when a rebel soldier fires on 
one of their officers, although as he states, the poor wretch 
harmed no one, he was hanged at once for his attempted as- 
sassination; a fit commentar}^ upon the statement made above. 
* * ^ * * * « 

To make a fair exhibit of the feelings of Gen. Sherman on 
the subject of firing cotton, etc., I will quote that irritable, 
snappish letter of his to Gen. Wheeler, in which he exhibits 
neither propriety nor decorum uor common civility to his 
second in command, Gen. Howard. The letter was addressed 
by Wheeler to Howard, but was replied to by Sherman, and 
as his historian writes, "To this Gen. Sherm^jP chose to reply 
himself, in the following characteristic terms." Wheeler's 
was a civil, gentlemanly request that the wanton destruction 
of property should cease, and the reply should have been in 
the same strain, and not in Sherman's characteristic insolence. 


On the 7th of February, ten days before Gen. Sherman en- 
tered Columbia, Gen. Wheeler addressed a letter to ,Gen. 
Howard on the subject of wantonly destroying the property 
not necessary for their sustenance. He writes thus: 

Grahams, S. C, Feb. 7, 1865. 
General: I have the honor to propose that if the troops of 
your army be required to discontinue burning the houses of 
our citizens, I will discontinue burning cotton. As an earnest 
of the good faith in which my proposition is tendered, I leave 
at this place about 300 bales of cotton unburned, worth in New 
York over a quarter of a million of dollars and in our currency 
one and a half million. I trust my having commenced will 
cause you to use your influence to insure the acceptance of the 
proposition by your whole army. I trust that you will not 
deem it improper for me to ask that you will require.the troops 
under your command to discontinue the wanton destruction of 
property not necessary for their sustenance. 

Respectfully, Gen., your obedient servant, 
J. WHFELER, Maj Gen., C. S. A. 
MAJ GEN. HOWARD, U. S. A., etc 
To this letter Gen. Sherman chose to reply himself, (as the 
writer says) in "the following characteristic terms:" 

H O., Mil Div.. Miss , In the Field, Feb. 8, 1865. 
General: Yours addressed to Gen. Howard is received by 
me. I hope you will burn all cotton, and save us the trouble. 
We don't want it. and it has proven a curse to our country. 
All you don't burn I will. As to private houses occupied by 
peaceful families, my orders are not to molest or disturb them, 
and I think that my orders are obeyed. Vacant houses, being 
of no use to anybody, I care little about, as the owners have 
thought them of no use to themselves. I don't want them 
destroyed, but do not take much care to preserve them. 
I am, with respects, yours, etc., 



>H * >!?: * >i< * * 

Gen. Sherman had his headquarters in Gervais street, be- 
tween Pickens and Henderson, at the residence now owned by 
Mr. J. Iv. Mimnaugh, while Gen. John A. Logan occupied the 
Preston mansion. Gen. lyogan, in ante-bellum days, had been 
charged by the Hon. William C. Preston, while in Washing- 
ton, with being an "Indian half breed." The impression was 
then, and is to this day, believed true. 

During the mess dinner hour at the "old mansion" Gen. 
IvOgan turned to the venerable ante-bellum butler of the 
Hampton and Preston families and remarked: 

"Henry, what would William C. Preston say could he know 
that the feet of the 'half-breed Indian Logan' rested under his 

Old Henry dared not answer, devoted as he was to that house, 
the family, and the traditions dating back to the days when 
his master, Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton, of the old army, en- 
tertained once gentlemen comrades at that same board. Old 
Henry had been "faithful among the faithless" — and though 
a rope had been placed around his neck more than once, to 
make him reveal hidden treasure, yet no information could be 
obtained, and this old negro remained steadfast to the end of 
the ordeal. 

In the testimony before the mixed commission on British 
and American claims in Washington, D. C, 1872, volume en- 
titled, "Who Burnt Columbia?" published by Walker, Evans 
& Cogswell, Charleston, S C. , February 17th, 1865, page 97, 
there are found the following inttresting passages: 


Question. "Do you not believe-Ido not want what people told 
you — but do you not believe that individuals assisted in spread- 
ing that conflagration?" 


Answer. Sherman on oath. "Yes, sir, after it had been 
started there was a little circumstance which occurred at the 
beginning, while I was still at the Pontoon bridge, that I will 
mention right here. I received a note from a Sister of Charity 
who kept an asylum or school in Columbia, alleging the fact 
that she was a teacher in a school in Brown County, Ohio, 
where my daughter, Minnie, was a pupil, and by reason of 
that she claimed protection to her school and property. I think 
I sent one of my staff officers, Col. Ewing, to assure her that 
there was no purpose to disturb her or the property of any- 
body in Columbia. I have since heard that she claimed that 
I passed my word guaranteeing to her protection on which she 
had based a claim for indemnification, etc. Now, of course, I 
did not want that school burnt with a parcel of little children. 
I went myself to see her afterwards; that is what I am getting 
at. The next day after the conflagration I went and found 
them all clustered in an adjoining house and gave orders that 
they should have possession of some Methodist establishment, 
which happened to be vacant, and which would serve as a 
shelter until they could procure another place. Their school- 
house was burned down in the great conflagration of the night 

It is true that Gen. Sherman's daughter, Miss Minnie, did 
go to the convent in Brown County, Ohio; it is true that the 
Mother Superior, (whom he calls the Sister of Charity in his 
testimony,) wrote the note asking for protection, and it is true 
that the Mother Superior did not get the promised protection. 


DepoBition of William D. Stanley. 

8th. Were you in Columbia on the night of the burning? 

A. Yes, sir. 

9th. By what means was the city burned? 

A. By Gen. Sherman's army of the United States troops. I 
saw a man, with the uniform of a United States soldier on enter 
the store of Mr. Robert Bryce, on the block immediately oppo- 
site where Mr. Browne kejit his store, and with a fire-brand 
about four feet in length, wrapped on one end with canvass, 
put fire to the store of Mr. Bryce under the roof. All the 
buildings iu that neighborhood were destroyed on both sides 
of the street. Previous to the general conflagration, I saw a 
number of soldiers pass me with tin cans and balls of cotton 
tied up with cord. In an hour or two the city was in flames. 
* * * A United States soldier told me himself that he set 
fire to Col. Clarkson's house. The United States soldiers were 
then all over the city. They appeared to have selected the 
northwest corner of every square on Main street, in the city, 
and fire broke out simultaneously from different portions of 
the city. The wind blew strong from the northwest at the 
time. Houses standing in detached grounds of from three to 
forty acres were burned at the same time. There were no 
other soldiers in the city at the time except the United 
States soldiers under Gen. Sherman. * * * A United 
States oSicer, who was a perfect gentleman, who was sick in 
my store, told me that the city of Columbia would be burned 
that night, which was the night of the 17th of February, 
1865, and also explained to me the signals which would be 
used. I then sent for the mayor of the city and informed him 
of the fact. While standing in front of my place of business, 


Gen. Sherman, with a portion of his staff, was passing and 
the mayor stopped them and told him that he had heard that 
the town would be burned that night. Gen. Sherman replied: 
"Mr. Mayor, you cau go home and make yourself perfectly 
easy; your city and citizens are just as safe as if there was not 
a Federal soldier within a thousand miles They shall be 
protected if it takes an entire corps of my army. I will avail 
myself of some day when the wind is not so high to destroy 
the Confederate property." He then rode on. On that night, 
notwithstanding this assertion, I looked out for the signals of 
which I had been informed by the sick oflBcer and saw them. 
Immediately after the signals the fire commenced at the north- 
west corner of every square on the main street. Before this 
the cotton had been set on fire in the middle of the street, but 
put out by the fire department. About 3 o'clock, on the 
morning of the i8th, Gen. Sherman ordered is fire brigade to 
proceed to stop the fire and prevent its further extension. 
Very soon thereafter the fire stopped. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this the 7th day of Feb- 
ruary, 1872. 

U. S. Commissioner Circuit and Di.^trict Courts 
for District of South Carolina 

Deposition of Milo H. Berry. 

* * * * % ^ ^ 

I was in Columbia in February, 1S65, whcu the cily was 
burned. The first fire I saw, which was close to me, was set 
on fire by soldiers. I did not see the petitioner's store 
burned, but suppose it was burned in the general conflagra- 
tion. The place I saw set on fire was set on fire by soldiers 
wearing the uniform of United States soldiers. This was on 
the 17th of February, 1865 ^^ the morning of the 17th of 
February, when the army of Gen Sherman entered, I came 
into the city, when I found that a committee of citizens had 
gone to surrender the city to Gen. Sherman. This was about 
8 A. M. Directly after, about 10 or 11 o'clock, A. M., the 


army entered. After the army came in, about 12 o'clock, I 
came down street to the old market, on the main street. There 
was cotton out in the street near the Court House. The wind 
commenced blowing a lively breeze, and the cotton took fire. 
The soldiers ran for the fire engines, when I met one of the 
firemen and told him to open the engine house and told him to 
run out the hose carriage, that they did not need an engine. 
The citizens and .soldiers ran out the hose carriage and put the 
fire out. I did not see any more tire until about 9 or 10 
o'clock that night, and this was the warehouse before men- 
tioned. According to my best belief I presume there were 
one hundred bales in the street. The cotton was strewn along 
the centre of the main street for a considerable distance; the 
cotton was in bales. The wind kept freshening up all the af- 
ternoon. My observation in regard to cotton burning is, that 
it burns like a live coal; it does not blaze when packed. The 
last time I saw the pile of cotton mentioned was about 12 
M. on the 17th. I think there were other piles of cotton in 
the street, but I am not certain in regard thereto, nor can I 
tell whether or not other cotton was burned, except the first 
above mentioned. About 5 o'clock of the morning of the 
1 8th, or before, a guard was sent to me. I had, however, 
procured a guard before. I cannot say whether or not Gen. 
Sherman's army, or any portion thereof, acted as an organized 
body in an effort to subdue the flames. Gen. Hampton's 
troops left in the morning previous to the burning. They left 
fully four hours before I saw the cotton burning as before 
stated. M. H. BERRY. 

Deposition of William Glaze. 

* ;|< ^ >ic * * ^ 

I witnes.sed the burning of Columbia. I know that the city 
was destroyed by Gen. Sherman's army, because they were in 
the city at the time, and i saw persons in the uniform of the 
United States soldiers setting fire to the city in various places. 
I saw two such persons fire Mr. Phillips' auction warehouse. 
They opened the door and threw balls, which they had set on 
fire, into the building, and in less than twenty minutes the 


building was in flames. This building was diagonally across 
from the petitioner's store. It occurred about 7 o'clock, P. 
M. All that part of the city caught directly after that — in 
about one-half of an hour. I saw several other houses fired, 
and among them my own building. I am speaking now of 
what I saw myself. I saw a building back of the old City 
Hotel fired by balls by persons wearing similar uniforms, 
whom I know to be United States soldiers, for they came into 
my own house. They burned my machine shop. There were 
about one hundred soldiers there at the time. They broke up 
the machinery and then set fire thereto; not, however, by balls 
as aforesaid, but by the broken boxes, etc.. and oil poured on. 
In the course of a half an hour the conflagration became gen- 
eral. Most of the burning was done trom that time until 
about 3 o'clock next morning. I was a member of the city 
council at the time, and went with the mayor to Gen. Sher- 
man, when Gen Sherman promised the mayor that there 
would be no burning that night. I saw no efforts on the part 
of the United States soldiers to subdue the fire; but, on the 
other hand, I saw them endeavoring to spread it, and heard 
some of them remark that it was not half enough. It was on 
my way home from our conference with Gen. Sherman that I 
saw Mr. Phillips' warehouse fired. I saw a sky-rocket sent 
up from the State House yard, where the headquarters of Gen. 
Sherman were, which I took to be the signal for the burning 
of the city, for immediately thereafter the fire burst out all 
over the city. Soldiers had been stationed at different points 

>!i jK * ^ * if: * 

in the H i-an time W. M. GLAZE. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this i8th day of March, 
A. D , 1872. ALBERT M. BOOZER, 

U S. Commissioner for District of South Carolina. 

Deposition of John McKenzie. 

:(i >t; * >K * * * 

I witnessed the burning of Columbia, on the main or Rich- 
ardson street. My own residence was burned It must have 
been burned by hands of persons, and not by accident. I was a 


great part of the time about the fire on that night. * * * Betweeo 
9 and lo o'clock that night (night of the 17th of February) I 
observed fires on the western side and eastern side of Richard- 
son street, toward the State House. About that time I saw 
fires out of the city, apparently three or four, or perhaps six 
or eight miles distant, and in the suburbs. * * * Soon the fires 
became general— there were fires in the different parts of the 
city. We left the main street and went on the back street to 
Brennan & Cassell's carriage factory, thinking we could there 
prevent the fire from proceeding on in the back of the city; 
but there I gave it up, as the hands left. I saw soldiers dur- 
ing the time rushing about in and out of the stores. I noticed 
that after they came out several times, fires would soon break 
out from the store entered; but I did not see any of them put 
fire to any building, nor did I see them carrying torches; they 
did not aid me at night in stopping the fire; I have been for 
many years president of a fire company; I have been connected 
with the fire department for thirty years. From my experience 
therein, I judge that the fire was the work of incendiaries and 
not of accident. 

I explain this in this way : The fires occurred in twenty or 
thirty different places at the same time, and so far from each 
other that they could not have been connected. United States 
troops told me, in my store in the morning, that I would "see 
hell tonight;" that they woulon't leave one store upon an- 

The parties who made the remarks were United States 
troops and belonged to Gen. Sherman's army. 

JOHN Mckenzie. 

Sworn to, etc. 

Deposition of Alfred Hug-er. 

I am eighty-four years of age; reside in Charleston; I was 
postmaster at Charleston before the war, and I had held the 
ofiice for thirty years; I was in Columbia in February, 1865; 
I was there when the Federal troops entered the town. 

I had conversations with several officers, and with one who 
was called Captain; I don't remember his name. I had a good 


deal of conversation with him; and a day or two after the fire 
this Captain said, in answer to my question as to who had fired 
Columbia, "We did it." His saying so only confirtned my 
own impression. If he had said anything else it would not 
have shaken my belief and impression; and previously to the 
fire the general impression in the town was that Columbia was 
to be burned. Nobody was surprised when the fire broke out; 
and in consequence of this general impression, I had taken 
what precautions I could to secure my family. I had conver- 
sation, at several times, with two private soldiers, named 
Goodman and Elliott. They stated that the fire had been done 
by the army. ALFRED HUGER. 

Deposition of Orlando Z. Bates, 

To int. I St. Orlando Z. Bates, aged 58 years, Columbia, 
South Carolina, merchant. 

To int. 3d. The city was in the possesion of Gen. Sherman's 
array after 10 or 11 A. M. on that day. Gen. Sherman was 
in command of that army, I saw him on the day as he entered 
the city and passed along the main street at the head of the main 
body of the army. I was at that time one ot the aldermen of 
the city of Columbia, and on the morning of the 17th of Feb- 
ruary, A. D., 1865, was informed that the Board of Aldermen 
would meet at 6 o'clock, A. M. Attended, and was informed 
by the Mayor of the city that the city was about to be evac- 
uated by the Confederate troops, and that it would be surren- 
dered to the army of Gen. Sherman In company with the 
Mayor, Hon. T. J. Goodwyn, and Alderman McKenzie and 
Stork, I proceeded to the outskirts of the city and met the ad- 
vance guard of the Federal army, under command of Col. 
Stone, to whom the Mayor tendered the surrender of the city, 
informing Col. Stone that there were no troops of the Confed- 
erate army in the city, and that the population was chiefly old 
men and women and children. Col. Stone accepted the sur- 
render and deponent and the persons already named, accompa- 
nied by Col. Stone, returned into the city about 12 or i o'clock 
when I observed a number of scattered Federal soldiers al- 
ready in the city. There was no alarm of fire and no burning 


of any description previous to the occupation already stated. 
The conflagration commenced after the entry of the United 
States forces. 

To int. 4. A large portion of the city was destroyed by fire 
during the day and night of the 17th February, 1865, and on 
the following day. I was in the city, and was at various points 
in that portion which was destroyed at the time of the burning, 
and saw the burning as it progressed. I saw the burning of 
several houses in the portion of the city lying between Main 
street and the gas works, at about twilight on the 17th. A 
little later, the store on Main street, occupied by an Aid Asso- 
ciation as a depot ot supplies for Confederate hospitals, near the 
corner of Plain street, was set on fire. I was present with the 
fire company, aiding to extinguish it, and saw Federal soldiers 
sticking bayonets into the engine hose and cutting the same 
with hatchets and knives. The hose and carriage was finally 
demolished, and the engine rendered unserviceable by the sol- 
diers. These fires preceded the general conflagration. I will 
also state that a quantity of cotton had been brought out of the 
cellars of stores, where it had been kept, on the east side of 
Main street, between Washington and Main streets, and piled 
in the middle of the street. As the troops passed it, I saw the 
cotton fired by them striking matches and applying. The cot- 
ton thus fired was kept from spreading by Mr. McKenzie, the 
captain ot the Independent Fire Company, having a hose at- 
tached to the hydrant at that point, and keeping a stream con- 
stantly playing upon it. This was during the afternoon of the 
17th February. At about 8 or 9 o'clock P. M. on the 17th 
February, I saw several rockets ascend from some point near 
the State House. Shortly after this my store, which was on 
Main street, a few doors south of the market, was set on fire, 
and immediately after this I saw fires arising in various parts 
of the city, and in a very short time nearly the whole of Rich- 
ardson or Main street was in flames. I saw several instances 
of Federal soldiers actually applying fire to buildings, and others 
carrying torches in various parts of the city for the same pur- 
pose. I conversed freely with the soldiers of General Sher- 
man's army, both at the time of the burning and afterwards, 


and no one ever denied the act, but several expressed regret 
that the entire city was not destroyed. I saw numbers of them 
at the scenes of the burning, giving expression to demonstra- 
tions of satisfaction by dancing and otherwise. 

* * >}; >(; * >}c >f: 

At the time I returned into the city, after surrendering the 
city to Colonel Stone, there was a strong breeze blowing from 
a westerly direction. When the wind did not carry the fire, I 
saw United States soldiers carry the fire by torches, and apply 
it to the buildings which were not then burning. I am unable 
to state of my own knowledge who started the fire in the first 


% % ■^ % ■^ * ^ 

Deposition of J. G. Gibbes. 

* * * * ^ * * 

The city was surrendered to General Sherman about 10 
o'clock in the morning of Friday, the 17th February, by Dr- 
Thomas Jefferson Goodwin, the mayor, about one mile from 
the limits of the town; he rode out to meet the army coming 
in, and the forces entered the city and took possession just at 
II o'clock; I noticed the clock myself as the first van arrived; 
no resistance was offered to General Sherman or his army; most 
of the Confederate troops left early on Friday morning; the 
rear guard, under General P, B. Young, of General Hampton's 
command, left just as the Federal troops were entering; no 
riots, fire, or pillage had yet occurred on the 17th day; the 
first fire commenced about three hours after the first entering; 
about 10 o'clock an alarm of fire arose, caused by the burning 
of some cotton in Richardson street; it was set by the United 
States soldiers; my own impression is, that the fire was acci- 
dentally caused by a cigar being thrown into the cotton; the 
alarm of fire was started, the fire engine immediately began to 
play on it and subdued the flames; just about the time that it 
was extinguished, the United States soldiers began to riddle 
and cut up the hose with their bayonets; I Vv'as present imme- 
diately at the fire, which occurred just south of the market; 
there was no disorder, though the troops all seemed in a good 


humor, and were laughing and jeering at those who had ex- 
tinguished the flames, but opposed no resistance except a few 
drunken men cut up the hose, but the fire had already been 

Q. These drunken men were soldiers? 

A, Yes, sir; and there was some sacking, but was not gen- 
eral; that is, between this fire and night; I saw several in- 
stances myself; my store, amongst the rest, was broken open by 
the soldiers; no ofiicer present; about 7 o'clock in the evening 
three or four rockets were thrown up in the extreme north- 
western portion of the town; immediately after that fire was 
seen in three difierent points in the northwestern part of the 
city; the flames spread rapidly from each of the quarters; there 
was a strong wind blowing from the northwestern towards the 
southwestern direction, which caused the general conflagra- 
tion; there is no doubt but that the citj^ was burned by the 
wind spreading the flames; but whenever they came to a vacant 
lot and the flames would have stopped, they were started on 
this side by the soldiers, who had inflammable materials, tur- 
pentine and cotton; I saw various of the soldiers with bottles, 
with sotne inflammable material; I supposed it to be turpentine, 
with which they made fire balls, and started the fire in build- 
ings in that way. My father's house was burned by them after 
having escaped the general conflagration; it was a fire-proof 
building, and had escaped the flames; I saw them fire the fur- 
niture in the house; turn over the piano, tables, chairs, and 
starting the fire from lace curtains, which they lit from the gas 
lights; there was a crowd present at my father's house, who 
did his best to stop these proceedings but was powerless; I did 
not see anything of the transportation of merchandise in vehicles 
or otherwise; no restraint was put by the officers, and no effort 
at all made until Saturday morning; no patrol or provost guard 
was to be seen suppressing the proceedings; the signals sent 
up were those already described, which were the signals for 
firing the town about 7 o'clock in the evening. 

* * «r :^ * * >j< 

Immediately after the rockets the fire started at three 
difierent points in the northwest part of the city, and extended 


very rapidly in a southeasterly direction; it was done by sol- 
diers of Gen. Sherman's army; efforts were rapidly made by 
the citizens; the engines were not turned out that night, be- 
cause the hose had been cut when they were playing on the 
fire of the cotton at i o'clock in the day, therefore the engines 
were of no service, but there were buckets of water, and efforts 
were made to extinguish the flames by individuals until they 
were so interferred with by the soldiers that they found it use- 
less and abandoned all efforts. 

Q. Were the engines injured .'' 

A. I think not, only the hose. 

Q. Did you hear of any order, etc.? 

A. I heard of no order; on the contrary, I have every reason 
to believe, from information derived from some of his own 
soldiers, that if the town was not actually destroyed by orders, 
the men fully understood that they would have license to do as 
they pleased; I can give my special reasons for saying that: for 
instance, a house belonging to me, occupied by Dr. Boozer, 
now physician of the penitentiary, was visited on Friday 
evening by United States soldiers, and in return for some 
kindness shown them by Mrs. Boozer, his wife, they kindly 
advised her to remove and conceal everything of value; that 
the town would be destroyed that night. She came to me and 
carried me to her house to see these men, who repeated in my 
presence these statements, but I could not believe it, and dis- 
suaded her from any attempt to remove; I could not believe 
such a thing possible, but it turned out as they predicted. 

Q. When were you appointed mayor? 

A. The citizens had a meeting the morning after the fire 
and sent for me in the State House yard and begged me to 
take hold of the government of the city. * * 


Sworn to, etc. 

Deposition of Charles F. Jackson. 

Charles F. Jackson, a witness, being svv^orn, deposes and 

I am a native of Kngland, I was on Main street, in the 


city of Columbia, on the occasion of the entry of the main 
army of Gen. Sherman, on the 17th of February, 1865. I 
witnessed the seventeenth army corps march through the main 
street, and was struck by the perfect order and equipment 
of the said corps. At the time the advanced corps were 
disbanded and breaking into and plundering the stores 
along their line of march, and though from the dis- 
cipline of the said 17th corps, it would have been easy to 
have prevented this pillage, no attempt was made so to do. On 
the night following I witnessed United States soldiers with 
balls of combustible material, lighting them, and flinging them 
about the streets and over and under the houses, Federal offi- 
cers at the same time mingling in the crowd. The conflagra- 
tion of Columbia, I believe, could have been prevented, judg- 
ing from the perfect discipline of the United States army when 
under orders, as I saw it on that day. Subsequent to the de- 
struction of Columbia I saw a United States officer, whose 
name I do not now remember, who stated to me that the burn- 
ing of Columbia was premeditated, and he stated to me that he 
had seen the plan of march as mapped out, and that Columbia 
was marked for conflagration, and that it was a general under- 
standing in the army that Columbia was to be burned. He 
further stated that any statement made by Gen. Sherman to 
the contrary was a lie. 

[The counsel for the United States objects to the admission 
of any statement made to witness.] 


Deposition of 0. 0. Howard. 

The deposition of O. O. Howard, a witness produced, sworn 
and examined on the part and behalf of the United States in 
the cause above entitled, now depending before the above 
named commission, taken before me, a United States commis- 
sioner in and for the District of Columbia, at Washington, in 
said district, on the tenth day of December, 1872, pursuant to 
a notice to that effect duly given by the agent and counsel for 
the United States. 

Mr. A. S. Worthington appeared on behalf of the United 
States; Messrs. George R. Walker, Bartley, Denver, Mackay, 
and Wells on behalf of claimants. 

The said O. O. Howard, having been first by me duly sworn 
to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, 
deposes and says: 

My name is O. O. Howard; my age is 42 years; my residence 
is District of Columbia; I am a native of Maine; my position is 
that of a General in the United States army. 

Preliminary question propounded by the officer taking this 
deposition : 

Have you any interest, direct or indirect, in the claim which 
is the subject-matter of the above entitled cause, or of this ex- 
amination? If so, state the nature and extent of such interest. 

Answer. I have no interest. 

Being examined by Mr. Worthington, of counsel for the 
United States, the witness further deposes and says: 

Q,. State what your rank in the United States army was in 
February, 1865? 

A. I was Major General of volunteers at that time; I think 
I was not a Brigadier General in the regular army until March 

Q_. What was your command in February, 1865? 



A. I commanded the army of the Tennessee, constituting 
the right wing of Gen. Sherman's army. 

Q. Operating in the State of South Carolina? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Please state the principal points through which your com- 
mand passed in the march from Savannah to Goldsboro'. 

A. The principal portion of my command was transported to 
Beaufort, South Carolina; thence [marched] northward through 
Pocotaligo, Orangeburg, Columbia, Cheraw, Fayetteville; sub- 
ordinate columns swept into different towns; General Slocum 
had the left wing; he was at the north of me; mine was the 
right line of march. 

Q. During the march under what orders from General Sher- 
man were you acting in respect to private property.'' 

A They were to take such provisions as were necessary for 
the subsistence of the army, but generally to spare private 
property, with some few exceptions; cotton was excepted; I 
-was directly instructed again and again to destroy the cotton. 

>lc ric >1< * ^ ;}; * 

'Q. On what day did you enter the town of Columbia your- 

A. The 17th of February, 1865. 

Q Please slate, in your own way, your recollection of the 
circumstances attending the occupation of that city and the de- 
struction of a portion of it ? 

A. Oa the 15th of February, in the vicinity of Columbia, 
opposite thereto, across the Congaree, we met with much resis- 
tance at Congaree creek, and had to push our way very slowly, 
the enemy retiring before us; when we arrived opposite Colum- 
bia we found the b'-idge across the Congaree destroyed by fire; 
we moved up to where the two rivers, the Saluda and the Broad, 
conjoined to form the Congaree; the bridge across the Saluda 
was destroyed by fire by the enemy; we bridged that and 
crossed our troops; the other bridge, when we reached the 
land intervening between the two rivers, was still standing, 
but as we attempted to cross it it was set on fire by the enemy^ 
and, having been covered with rosin, was in flames in a mo- 
ment, so that even the Confederate cavalry rushed northward 


to save themselves, some of them without crossing; our troops 
spent the whole night in getting across the Broad, which was 
a very difl&cult river; we ferried over a brigade at the begin- 
ning by means of ropes and boats; that brigade was the brigade 
of Colonel Stone, and pushed its way up the hill slowly against 
the enemy, retiring; the enemy passed through Columbia, and 
the mayor came to the outside of the city aud surrendered the 
city, I think between lo and ii o'clock, say lo o'clock; in the 
meantime a regular bridge was laid across the Broad river, and 
General Sherman and myself crossed over, riding side by side, 
before any other troops from this leading brigade had passed; 
it was about half-past ten that General Sherman and I rode 
over ahead of all the remaining portion of the troops that had 
not been ferried over, and rode directly on to the city, a dis- 
.tance of about three miles, entering it in what we called the 
the main street; I believe the name as it appears on the map, 
is Richardson street; it was the one which led directly to the 
capitol; at every corner of the street we met crowds of people, 
principally negroes; not very far from the market house we 
met the maj'or of the city, who had a short conversation with 
General Sherman; as my troops alone were to have charge of 
the city, 1 observed veiy carefully the disposition of the guards 
of the leading brigade. Colonel Stone's; sentinels were located 
in front of buildings of any considerable importance, aud on the 
main street the principal portion of the brigade was in rest, 
waiting for orders; there was only that one brigade; we were 
ahead of all the rest; near the brigade was an immense pile of 
cotton, bales were broken open in the middle of the streets, 
and were on fire; au engine was playing upon the fire, and 
soldiers and citizens were engaged apparently in extinguishing 
it; General Sherman was met with much enthusiasm by a com- 
pany of soldiers; observing them closely I saw that some of 
them were under the influence of drink. 

^ * :^i * >)< * * 

(Continued.) We rode to a foundry where guns had been 
cast, and observed that, and went afterwards through several 
streets together, when I separated from General Sherman, 
selected my headquarters, and gave the necessary orders for 


the thorough care of the troops and of the city for the night; 
General Sherman took his headquarters at the house ot Blan- 
ton Duncan and I mine at a house near the University, belong- 
ing to one of the professors, after this disposition I lay down 
to take a little rest, and was awaked first about dark by one of 
my aides, who said the city was on fire; I sent the aide. Captain 
Gilbveth, immediately to ascertain where the fire was and to 
call upon General Charles R. Woods, the division commander, 
who had the immediate command of the city, to prevent the 
extension of the fire; I then at once dressed myself and went 
to the scene; there I met General John A. Logan, who was my 
next in rank and who commanded the corps; we consulted to- 
gether, and took every precautionary measure we could think 
of to prevent the extension of the flames, sometimes ordering 
the tearing down of sheds and small buildings, protecting the 
citizens, assisting them in the care of their property, and guard- 
ing it; much of the property was thrown into the streets; per- 
sonally I set a great many soldiers, during the night, to extin- 
guishing the flames from the houses, and they went to the top 
of the houses where water was passed up to them; nearly every- 
thing in my immediate vicinity was saved; a perfect gale from 
the northwest had commenced about the time we crossed the 
bridge, or before that and continued all night, or until, I should 
say, between two and three o'clock in the morning; it seemed 
at first utterly useless to attempt to stop the flames, they were 
so hot that many of our own soldiers were burnt up that night; 
when the wind changed, however, it was easy to prevent any 
further extension of the fire; it was done; some of our men be- 
haved badlj' on account of being under the influence of drink, 
but they were replaced by fresh men as soon as their conduct 
came to the knowledge of the officer in charge; the first brigade 
— Stone's — was relieved by another brigade of General Wood's 
division, and finally the entire division of General Hazen was 
brought into the cit> to assist; all the men who misbehaved 
that we could seize upon were kept under guard until the next 
day and punished; there were quite a number of our men who 
had been taken prisoners and were held by the Confederates; 
they appeared in the streets of Columbia soon after our arrival; 


I do not know myself where they were confined; the peniten- 
tiary was also opened and all its prisoners loosed; I found dur- 
ing the night a reckless mob very often, sometimes insulting 
ladies, and sometimes rushing into houses and pillaging; I did 
not see anybody setting fires; General Sherman himself stayed 
up with us for the most of the night; General Logan and Gen- 
Woods were on the ground all the time until the fire abated, 
and I believe did everything they could to prevent it. Gen- 
eral Sherman's order to me to destroy certain classes of prop- 
erty is a part of our record, and I remember the tenor of it. 

Q, State your recollection of it. General Howard. 

A. It was that certain buildings of a public nature should be 
destroyed, such as arsenals, armories, powder-mills, depots; but 
that private property and asylums, so-called, should be pro- 
tected; I saw that the wind was so high that it would be im- 
possible to destroy that class of buildings by fire on the evening 
of the 17th of February, and therefore, refrained at that time 
from putting the order into practical execution On the i8th 
and 19th those buildings of that class that were left from the 
flames were destroyed. 1 have in my report an accurate list of 
them; the flames of this burning of the night of the 17th had 
destroyed a part of these other buildings included in the order. 
We destroyed also the railroad track. Though the order was 
to destroy cotton in South Carolina, yet no cotton remained 
that I know of after this fire to be destroyed; none was de- 
stroyed, according to my recollection. 

Q. Do you know anything about some rockets having been 
sent up in the vicinity of the State Honse on the night of the 
17th of February? 

A. I do. 

Q. State what you know about that? 

A. The rockets were sent up by the signal corps; the left 
wing was quite a distance from us. General Blair's corps was 
located outside of the city, and one half of General Logan's, 
and it was customary for the signal officers attached to each 
division or corps to communicate with their neighbors as to 


where they were, or to give any events of the day; they did it 
in the day time by flags, and at night by rockets, and this was 
done that night; the signals meant nothing else that I know of. 

>{c >i< * >}J * * * 

Q. Do you know of any barns, cotton gins, mills, machin- 
ery, or any property of that nature, destroyed upon planta- 
tions on your line of march? 
A. I do know of it. 

Q. There was quite a large amount of it destroyed, was 
there not? 

A. Yes, sir, quite considerable. 

Q. Are you cognizant of the fact that large numbers of 
houses of private citizens were destroyed during that march? 
A. Yes, sir, they were — a very large number. 
Q. By troops of the United States? 
A That I do not know, but I presume so; by soldiers. 
O, You presume they were destroyed by the troops of the 
United States? 
A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Please state whether your experience was — 
A. Let me modify my last answer; sometimes they were not 
destroyed by our troops; sometimes the Confederates destroyed 
them themselves prior to our coming; it was a curious thing 
that our troops and the Confederates were often destroying the 
same class of property; that was a curious fact that I remem- 
ber distinctly, particularly in the case of that cotton you 
speak of. 

Q Are you not aware that in parishes close to Pocotaligo 
there is scarce a dwelling house left from the ravages of the 
United States army? 

A. Not altogether; no sir; but from both armies; I am per- 
fectly aware of the desolation, and beheld it with my own 

Q. Do you not believe a large portion of this destruction of 
private property to have been by troops of the United States? 
A. No; I think the Confederates left us precious little. 
Q. Of residences, I mean? 
A. Well, residences; that one thing alone I could not say of 


"Having utterly ruined Columbia the right 
wing began its march Northward, towards 
Winnsboro on the 20th." — Sherman'' s Memoirs, 
vol. 2, page 288, Charles L. Webster & Co., 
New York, i8g2. 


my own knowledge; you know that generally when our troops 
destroy private property, they were not ordered to destroy it. 

Q_. I ask you to state from your belief? 

A. If you wish me to state what I know with reference to 
the absolute destruction, I know that I saw it; I saw chimneys 
standing with my own eyes after the houses were burned. 

^ >{; * ^ * 5}: * 

Q. Were not most of the places through which you passed 
on your route to Columbia, through South Carolina destroyed 
by some one, you do not say whom? 

A. No; not so; Midway, when I left it, was in good condi- 
tion ; Mr. Simms' property was left in good condition; I sent 
through General Blair and protected his library by a sentinel. 

Q. But don't you know a great many that were destroyed? 

A. I went over the country aflerwards and it was pretty 
completely cleared out; I saw the chimneys and scarcely any-^^ 
thing left in a great portion of the country (passing) through 
there; I went down through it, and that was what I observed. 

* >i< :^ >[; if; ^ -^ 

(The witness testifies here as to Orangeburg and Blackville.) 


Deposition of Wm. T. Sherman. 

The deposition of Wm. T. Sherman, a witness produced, 
sworn, and examined on the part and behalf of the United 
States, in the cause above entitled, now depending before the 
above-named Commission, taken before me, James O. Cle- 
phane, United States Commissioner for the District of Colum- 
bia, at the city of Washington, D. C, on the nth day of De- 
cember, 1872, pursuant to a notice to that effect duly given by 
the agent and counsel of the United States. 

****** ;K >i< 

Q_; Please state whether in your march through South Car- 
olina, you at any time authorized the destruction of private 

A, I did; corps commanders were at all times authorized to 
destroy private property, where it fulfilled any military uses, and 
the commanders of all detachments. 

* * * * 5l< * * 


Q. I will now repeat the question I asked you, and that is 
whether at any time in your march through South Carolina, 
you authorized the destruction of private property; and if so, 
in what instances and for what purposes ? 

A. I required the destruction of all railways, depots, foun- 
dries, and arsenals; I generally, in person, saw that they 
were so destroyed; I never gave an order for the destruction 
of a private dwelling, more especially if it were occupied by a 

>|< * >!; * >i< % ^ 

Q. Were you at any time before crossing the Savannah river, 
or before reaching Columbia, aware of a strong spirit of ven- 
geance — a desire for vengeance — animating yonr troops to be 
wreaked upon South Carolina? 

A. I was; the feeling was universal, and pervaded all ranks. 

Q.. Officers and all f 

A. Officers and all; we looked upon South Carolina as the 
cause of our woes. 

Q. And thought that she thoroughly deserved severe treat- 
ment ? 

A. Yes, sir; that she thoroughly deserved extirpation. 

Q. Did you see any stores along Main street being broken 

A. No, sir, I did not; Main street was crowded full of ne- 
groes, escaped prisoners, and officers of our army who had been 
imprisoned there, but who had succeeded in making their 
escape; there must have been 300 there; I met the'mayor. Dr. 
Goodwyn, there, an old gentleman; I was still mounted, and 
he came up to my horse, and we had a conversation about one 
thing and another; and afterwards, on a second meeting, he 
told me which house he had selected for my occupation, namely, 
the house of Blanton Duncan, on a street at right angles with 
this main street and removed trom it, I should suppose about 

one thousand yards. 

* * >1< % * ^t * 

Q. You have staled to me that there was a general feeling 
through the army, pervading all ranks of a desire to wreak 


vengeance — to extirpate, if I may be permitted to use your 
own words, South Carolina? 

A. There was, 

Q. Was that feeling shared in by your superior officers? 

A. Not at all, unless it may be inferred from a paragraph in 
a letter of General Halleck to me, which was published — pub- 
lished in the ofl&cial documents — in which he said in case I 
took Charleston he hoped I would sow salt upon it, so that it 
would never resurrect; that is the only paragraph I can recall 
in any letter of instruction or communication to me during the 
time I was in Savannah or before. 

Q. What was your reply? 

A. My reply was, that if we took Charleston I supposed 
there would be very little left of it when we got through with 
it, but I did not intimate that I was going to Charleston, be- 
cause I had made up my mind what course to pursue before 
that time; still my letter is a public letter, and is of record; it 
has been printed, I suppose; I can find it if you desire it. 

Counsel. I am not particularly anxious to see the letter, if 
3'ou can give me the substance of your reply. 

Witness. I refer to the testimony given by me before the 
committee on the conduct of the war, in which I extract many 
of my own letters. 

I think I used the language in a letter to General Hal- 

(Witness looked over a printed volume.) 

I am now trying to see if I can find it. My language is: 

"I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and don't 
think salt will be necessary. When I move the 15th corps will 
be on the right of the right wing, and their position will bring 
them naturally into Charleston first, and if you have watched 
the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they 
generally do their work up pretty well. The truth is, the 
whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak ven- 
geance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate, 
but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her. 
Many and many a person in Georgia asked me why we did not 
go to South Carolina, and when I answered that I was en route 


for that State, the invariable reply was, 'Well, if you will 
make those people feel the severities of war, we will pardon 
you for your desolation of Georgia.' 

"I loak upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I 
"doubt if we shall spare the public buildings there, as we did at 

Q. You feel a great interest in the question of the burning 
of Columbia, do you not? 

A. I do. 

Q. Far beyond the value of money? 

A. The value of money is nothing compared with the eluci- 
dation of the historic truth. 

O. You felt as soon as you saw the first signs of a general 
conflagration in Columbia that the authorship of it would be 
visited upon you? 

A. Certainly; I knew I would be held responsible for it by 

Q. And as a matter of deep personal interest to yourself, 
you are glad to testify today? 

A. Perfectly so; it is my pleasure to testify at any time on 
that subject or any other, especially on this. 

Q. You have, therefore, a warm personal interest in this 

A. I have. 

Q. And in vindicating yourself and the United States forces 
from the charges which have been and which you knew would 
be brought against you? 

A. If I had made up my mind to burn Columbia I would 
have burnt it with no more feeling than I would a common 
prairie dog village; but I did not do it, and I therefore want 
that truth to be manifested; that is the interest I have in it; it 
is not a question of houses, of property, or anything of the 

Q. And you feel an interest in vindicating your army from 
the charge? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. You told me some time ago that you know in no way of 


houses being set fire to by individuals in Columbia during the 
night of the 17th of February, 1865? 

A. I saw no soldier engaged iu any act of conflagration ex- 
cept this young man who appeared to be drunk and running 
about, suspecting that he was engaged in some mischief — 
Q. You did see one? 

A. He was behaving badly; he was the man whom my aide- 
de-camp shot and brought to; I saw no soldier engaged in any 
act of incendiarism that night. 

Q. Do you know of any individual firing private property 
on the night of the 17th of February? 

A, I do not; he should certainly have been summarily dealt 

O. Do you not believe — I do not want what people told you 
— but do you not believe that individuals assisted in spreading 
that conflagration ? 

A. My own judgment was that the fire originated from the 
imprudent act of Wade Hampton in ripping open the bales of 
that cotton, piling it on the streets, burning it, and then going 
away, that God Almighty started wind sufiicient to carry that 
cotton wherever he would, and in some way or other that 
burning cotton was the origir- of the fire; after the fire began, 
I have heard it intimated that some of our soldiers were en- 
gaged in spreading it; that is the answer to the question; my 
belief is, some soldiers, after the fire originated, may have 
been concerned iu spreading it, but not concerned at all in 

starting it. 

>l< * * * ^ ' ^ * 

Q. You have given us your suppositions in regard to the 
origin of this fire; although you personally may not have or- 
dered the burning of the city, would it surprise you if it could 
be proven to you that your army actually did it ? 

A. It would surprise me very much indeed if any officer, 
Howard, Logan, Woods, or any commissioned officer was privy 
to the setting fire to any house in Columbia that night, but it 
would not surprise nie if some vagabond did it without orders, 
and merely for deviltry; it would not surprise me if some of 
our escaped prisoners, or some of our own soldiers, aided in 


spreading the flames; I would be perfectly prepared to believe 
it if the evidence w s spread before me that some one or more 
of our soldiers — because in an army of that size we had men 
capable of doing anything — might have assisted in the work 
of destruction; that it was concealed by their fellows: but that 
any of my officers had a hand in it, either directly or indirectly, 
I do not, and will not believe. 

Q. If I were to submit to you now the testimony of some 
individuals in South Carolina, whose integrity you have no 
doubt of, that they witnessed the firing by Federal soldiers in 
the presence of officers? 

A. Well, they would have to state the names of the officers, 
and if the officers denied it, I would accept their denial rather 
than any evidence of people in South Carolina; if the officers 
present were mentioned by name, or anything by which we 
could trace them down — say the officer of the guard at a certain 
point— then I would believe it; I would not, upon the mere say 
so, or even the oath of any person in Columbia that night, 
when he would state that he saw a fire kindled in a house, or 
in a shed, whereby it spread to the adjoining propert}', I would 
not believe it, unless it were confirmed by some of my own 

^^ Tp "^F 7F ^ ^ ^ 

Q. On the 17th and i8th of February, 1865, who was em- 
powered to order the destruction of cotton, or other property 
in Columbia. 

A. First myself, and next the commanders of the two wings, 
Howard and Slocum; next the commanders of the four corps; 
then the commanding officer of any detachmentsent out from the 
main body, to whom was committed the destruction of any 
property from the necessity of the case. 

Q. I meant to limit my question to property in the city of 

A. First myself; then General Howard, General L,ogan, and 
General Chas, R. Woods; no one else. 

Q. If soldiers, or subordinate officers without orders from 
those you have named, destroyed property in Columbia on the 
night of the 17th February, it was unauthorized? 


A. Yes, sir; I do not think it was done except by detach- 
ments sent out for the purpose with orders. 

Q. You have stated that you now feel a personal responsi- 
bility in regard to this matter; did you feel that personal re- 
sponsibility on the night of the 17th of February, when you 
first saw on the wall of your room the light of the fire? 

A. I did. 

O. What effect had it on you then and during the rest of the 

A. To do my duty to prevent the extension of that fire, so 
as not to disturb the families of people living in Columbia, the 
quiet inhabitants of the place, and to prevent the usual clamor 
where a city was burnt, as in Pennsylvania. 

W. T. SHERMAN, General. 


What Sherman practiced in his march through Georgia and 
South Carolina in 1864-65, he preached as early as 1863. In 
a letter to General Halleck, dated September 17th, 1863, he 
says that "we (the army) will, if need be, take every life, every 
acre of land, every particle of property, every thing that to us 
seems proper," and that he would keep up war, pure and sim- 
ple, and make the southern people "so sick of war that genera- 
tions would pass away before they would again appeal to it." 
This is in the same vein as the declaration, a year later, that 
he would "make Georgia howl," and that the Fifteenth Corps 
does its work well. 

A simple perusal of the letters of Sherman, published by 
himself, will show that such crimes as the burning of Columbia 
were, in his view, legitimate and proper acts of v.'ar. But 
against this we can set the opinion of a better soldier and bet- 
ter man than Sherman, whose judgment was as cool and dis- 
passionate in things which came home to him and his people 
as in things with which he and his had no personal concern. 
When General Lee visited this State, not long before his death, 
a gentlenian who knew him well asked his opinion of Sherman's 
conduct. This, it must be remembered, was several j'ears after 
the war, when there were the same means that there are now 
of forming a true judgment. What passed is given as follows: 

D. H. "General Lee, I desire to ask a question, which you 
will please not reply to if there is any impropriety in it." 

General Lee. "Ask it, sir." 

D. H. "Was General Sherman in his march through the 
country justified, under the usages of war, in burning our homes 
over the heads of our women and children while we were in 
the field?" 

General Lee arose from his chair with hig eyes brightened 
and said: "No, sir! no, sir! It was the act of a savage. He 
was not justified under the usages of war. " 

This we have from the lips of the general to whom General 


lyCe said these words. They are worthy of note, and the phrase 
that General Lee used in speaking of Sherman will be remem- 
bered to Sherman's shame when every other bitterness of the 
war is forgotten: "It was the act of a savage!" 


The New York World publishes the following article written 
by Mr. James Wood Davidson, of Columbia, who is engaged in 
journalism in New York : 

The publication of his "Memoirs" by General Sherman makes 
for the third time an occasion for the country to ask, Who 
burned Columbia? The first occasion was the publication of 
his official report just after the event; and the second was in 
September, 1873, when he published a letter in the Washington 
Chronicle, apparently designed to influence the decision of the 
Mixed Claims Commission. 

In his "Memoirs" just published General Sherman uses this 
language concerning the burning of the capital of South Caro- 
lina : "Many of the people think this fire was deliberately 
planned and executed. This is not true. It was accidental, 
and in my judgment began from cotton which General Hamp- 
ton's men had set fire to on leaving the city (whether by his 
order or not is not material), which fire was partially subdued 
early in the day; but when night came the high wind fanned 
it again into full Maze, carried it against the frame buildings, 
which caught like tinder, and soon spr«.ad beyond our control." 

In his letter to the Washington Chronicle in 1873 General 
Sherman says: "I reiterate that, no matter what his (General 
Hampton's) orders were, the men of his army, either his rear 
guard or his stragglers, did apply the fire, and that this was a 
sufficient cause for all else that followed." By "all else," of 
course. General Sherman means the destruction of the city. 

In his official report of the event itself in 1865 General Sher- 
man says: "And without hesitation I charge General Wade 
Hampton with having burned his own city of Columbia, not 
with a malicious intent, or as the manifestation of a Roman 
stoicism, but from folly and want of sense in filling it with lint 
cotton and tinder." 

I have thus given in his own words General Sherman's three 
statements of his version of the story of Columbia's burning. 


They show a toning down as we come on from 1865 to 1873, 
and finally to 1875, but this discrepancy is not the matter be- 
fore me just now. The general idea of the three statements is 
that the burning of Columbia was an accident. 

Sixth. Adjutant S- H M. Byers, in a pamphlet entitled 
"What I Saw in Dixie, or Sixteen Months in Rebel Prisons," 
says: ."The boys, too, were spreading the conflagration by 
firing the city in a hundred places." The "boys" seem to 
have done that night exactly as General Sherman told General 
Halleck they generally did, that is, "do their work up pretty 
well" ; for no one should complain of a hundred separate appli- 
cations of the incendiary torch as not being "pretty well" in 
its way. 

Seventh. Mr. Whitelaw Reid's "Ohio in the War" says of 
this destruction of Columbia: "It was the most monstrous 
barbarity of the barbarous march." This opinion bears upon 

the character of the act, not upon the question of who did it. 


Twelfth. The following towns and villages in South Caro- 
lina in some of which at least there was no cotton in the streets, 
were burned either in whole or in part during the same cam- 
paign: Robertsville, Grahamville, McPhersonville, Barnwell, 
Blackville, Orangeburg, Ivcxington, Winnsboro, Camden, lyan- 
caster, Chesterfield, Cheraw and Darlington. 


Mr, August Conrad (Felix Clacius) having in his "lyights 
and Shadows of American L,ife During the War of Secession" 
described the occupation and the sack of Columbia, by the 
United States troops, gives an account of the horrible acts that 
followed : 

Night with her sable pall covered Columbia usually so quiet 
Bnd peaceable, but tonight full of tumult and disorder. Night 
came on for the evil foe, who was laboring wdth many thous- 
and busy hands at her destruction. Night was unwelcome to 
the unfortunate people who looked to the near future in anxiety 
and distress. There was rest and recuperation for no one this 

As it was getting dark the soldiers camped in the streets and 
made fire to cook their supper. I spoke to the Captain quar- 
tered in our house, representing the danger of this course— so 
much cotton lying near, and many other easily inflammable 
substances. I had for my trouble my pains. The Captain 
sneeringly asked me what I had to do with the soldiers? 
whether I had a kitchen where they could prepare their meals? 
1 said no more. I could not afford to offend this man, who 
still had a spark of decency and authority. I invited him and 
the two Lieutenants to partake of our frugal supper. But be- 
fore it was readv a new event attracted our attention. A 
mighty pillar of fire and smoke arose at some distance. One 
of the railroad depots situated at the lower end of the city was 
burning, and the cotton stored thCxC furnished ample food for 
the flames. But in the excitement of the hour it made little 
or no impression till flanies were seen in the opposite direction 
also; and, when a few minutes afterwards a house standing 
next to ours was burning, the conviction began to dawn on us 
that the firing of the city m^as premeditated, its extent incalcu- 
lable; and this thought filled us with dismay. 

When we noticed that the enemy made not the slightest 
effort to extinguish the flames, but rather seemed to enjoy the 


sight, we were confirmed in our suspicions that the fire had 
been set. But I do not to this day know whether the fire set 
by this rabble had been ordered or only suffered by the mili- 
tary authorities. 

The Satanic horde plundered and destroyed within the 
houses and upon the streets. Pandemonium let loose is but a 
faint image of what was transpiring here before my eyes. 

Heartrending cries of distress were heard amid this tumult 
from persons robbed or otherwise molested, or from people 
threatened by the fire. Here and there you would see unfor- 
tunates, with little children upon their arms, or with some few 
valuables or necessaries, running from these human devils and 
from the fire, looking for safety, but only to find fresh misery 
and destruction in the place they had thought safe. 


Letter from General Hampton on the Burning' of 


We propose at some future daj^ to publish in full the facts 
concerning the burning of Columbia, and to fix beyond all 
controversy the responsibility for that outrage upon the laws 
of civilized warfare. But in the meantime we put on record 
the following letter which Gen. Wade Hampton addressed to 
Senator Reverdy Johnson, and which be read in the United 
States Senate at the time: 

Wild Woods, Mississippi, April 21, 1866. 

To Hon. Reverdy Johnson, United States Senate: 
Sir: A few days ago I saw in the published proceedings of 
Congress that a petition from Benjamin Kawles, of Columbia, 
South Carolina, asking compensation for the destruction of his 
house by the Federal army in February, 1865, had been pre- 
sented to the Senate, accompanied by a letter from Major- 
General Sherman. 

In this letter General Sherman uses the following language: 
"The citizens of Columbia set fire to thousands of bales of 
cotton rolled out into the streets, and which were burning be- 
fore we entered Columbia. I, myself, was in the city as early 
as 9 o'clock, and I saw these fires, and knew that efforts were 
made to extinguish them, but a high aud strong wind kept 
them alive. 

"I gave no orders for the burning of your city, but, on the 
contrary, the conflagration resulted from the great imprudence 
of cutting the cotton bales, whereby the contents were spread 
to the wind, so that it became an impossibility to arrest the 

"I saw in your Columbia newspaper the printed order of 
Gen. Wade Hampton, that on the approach of the Yankee 


array all the cotton should thus be burned, and from what I 
saw m5^self I have no hesitation in saying that he was the 
cause of the destruction of your city." 

This same charge, made against me by General Sherman, 
having been brought before the Senate of the United States, I 
am naturally most solicitous to vindicate myself before the 
same tribunal. But my State has no representative in that 
body. Those who should be her constitutional representatives 
and exponents there, are debarred the right of entrance into 
those halls. There are none who have the right to speak for 
the South; none to participate in the legislation which governs 
her; none to impose the taxes she is called upon to pay, and 
none to vindicate her sons from misrepresentation, injustice or 

Under these circumstances I appeal to you, in the confident 
hope that you will use every effort to see that justice is done 
in this matter. 

I deny, emphatically, that any cotton was fired m Columbia 
by my order. 

I deny that the citizens "set fire to thousands of bales rolled 
out into the streets." 

I deny that any cotton was on fire when the Federal troops 
entered the city. 

I most respectfully ask of Congress to appoint a committee, 
charged with the duty of ascertaining and reporting all the facts 
connected with the destruction of Columbia, and chus fixing 
upon the proper author of that enormous crime the infamy he 
richly deserves. 

I am willing to submit the case to any honest tribunal. 
Before any such I pledge myself to prove that I gave a positive 
order, by direction of General Beauregard, that no cotton 
should be fired; that not one bale was on fire when General 
Sherman's troops took possession of the .ity ; that he promised 
protection to the city, and that, in spite of his solemn promise, 
he burned the city to the ground, deliberately, systematically 
and atrociously. 

I, therefore, most earnestly request that Congress may take 
prompt and efficient measures to investigate this matter fully. 


Not only is this due to themselves and to the reputation of the 
United States army, but also to justice and truth. 
Trusting that you will pardon me for troubling you, 
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Times have changed since 1866. General Sherman, in his 
Memoirs published in 1875, maintains that Columbia was 
burned by accident and not by design, and makes this most 
remarkable admission [Memoirs, volume II, page 287]: "In 
my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it 
to Gen. Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly to 
shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion 
a braggart, and professed to be the special champion of South 

In other words General Sherman coolly admits that he de- 
liberately made in his official report a false charge against a 
soldier opposed to him in order to injure him with his own 
people. We expect at the proper time to show that this ad- 
mission is fatal to some other statements made by "the General 
of the Army." 

But, fortunately, the character of Wade Hampton was 
always above reproach, and now, after a career which has 
made hira the idol of his people and the admiration of the 
world, he goes to take his seat on the floor of that Senate, 
which, in '66, denied him the simplest justice. 

General Sherman's Latest Story Examined. 

The following is taken from the Charleston News and 

Courier of June 15th, 1881: 


In the Memoirs of Gen. Wm. T. Sherman, by himself, (page 
226) we find a dispatch of General Sherman to Gen. W. H. 
Hal leek, dated headquarters in the field. Savannah, December 
24, 1864. It is given in full. General Sherman says: 

"This war differs from European wars in this particular: 
We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, 
and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard 


hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that 
this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a won- 
derful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been de- 
ceived by their lying newspapers to believe that we were being 
whipped all the time now realize the truth, and have no appe- 
tite for a repetition of the same experience. To be sure Jeff 
Davis has his people under pretty good discipline, but I think 
faith in him is much shaken in Georgia, and before we have 
done with her. South Carolina will not be quite so tem- 

"I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not 
think it will be necessary. When I move the Fifteenth Corps 
will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will 
bring them into Charleston first; and if you have watched 
the history of the corps, you will have remarked that they 
generally do their work [jretty well. The truth is, the whole 
army is burning with insatiable desire to wreak vengeance 
upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate; but feel 
that she deserves all that seems in store for her." 

This is susceptible of but one meaning: That General Hal- 
leck had hinted that Charleston should be laid in ashes, and 
the ruins sowed in salt. Sherman avows that he was ready 
for this, and that nothing was too bad for South Carolina. But 
for what follows, it might have been urged that Charleston 
was especially singled out as the scapegoat of the State. In 
the very same letter from which we have quoted, Sherman 
says: "I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston," 
Mark Sherman's words, and the wholesale destruction uf iirop 
erty in South Carolina. Join to this the fact that it was the 
Fifteenth Corps that entered Columbia and occupied it. Can it 
be doubted for a moment that the corps again did its work 
"pretty well," and that Shernian acted upon the feeling, which 
animated him from the moment that he crossed the State line, 
that South Carolina deserved all that was in store for her, by 
reason of his own wishes and the insatiable desire of his troops 
for vengeance! 

General Sherman forgets — or he says what is untrue. We 
are constrained to believe that he wilfully misstates the facts. 


This, we believe, because he has done it before. In his Memoirs 
(page 287) and, in substance, in his Hartford speech, General 
Sherman says that the fire, which destroyed Columbia, was 
"accidental." On the same page he says: "In my official re- 
port of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to Gen. Wade 
Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly, to shake the faith of 
his people in him, for he was, in mv opinion, a braggart, and 
professed to be the special champion of South Carolina." 
Knowing, by bis own account, that the fire was accidental, Gen. 
Sherman charged it on General Hampton— not because he be- 
lieved him to be guilty, but to shake confidence in him. Even 
our Northern brethren, or some of them, will reluctantly admit 
that a commanding general who will boast that he accused an 
opponent of a crime of which he knew him to be innocent is 
capable, at this late daj^ of lying squarely to gratify his spite 
and save himself from blame. 

One Trutlifal James in Sherman's Army. 

Columbia, S. C, October 25. 
There was one truthful man in Sherman's army, and Sena- 
tor Hampton has discovered him. The Senator has handed 
the News and Courier bureau here the following fragment of 
an article in the Fulton Signal, of Canal Fulton, Ohio, edited 
and published by J. P. Yockey. 


"My capture, imprisonment, release and return home will 
be the theme of my address. 

"Every American citizen is familiar with Sherman's famous 
march to the sea, and all will agree that its success broke the 
backbone of secession. 

"Arriving at Savannah on the 20th day of December, 1864, 
the hero ot this world renowned campaign gave us a few 
week's rest. This hero soon became restless, and perching 
himself upon an elevated spot, cried: 'Attention creation. By 
kingdoms, forward march.' And we did. Little did we think, 


however, that our march was 'on to Richmond.' The first 
important act of this campaign was the seige and capture of 
Columbia, South Carolina — the place where secession w'as born, 
bred and mothered, and every patriot of that brave band swore 
that not one stone should remain on the other in that beauti- 
ful city, and the promise was well carried out." 

This precious extract is cornmended to the attention of the 
arch incendiary, Tecumseh Sherman. 

Extracts from a Reply to the Cliarg-e of the New York 

Tribune that Hampton Burned Columbia. 

* ^v * % ^ * * 

In a letter published in the proceedings of Congress about 
April, 1866, General Sherman says: "The citizens of Colum- 
bia set fire to thousands of bales of cotton rolled out into the 
streets, and which were burning before we entered Columbia. 
I myself was in the city as early as 9 o'clock, and I saw these 

The general accusation, it is seen, is here transferred from 
Hampton to the citizens of Columbia; but the inquiry is now 
as to the facts in regard to the burning cotton — thousands of 
bales of which General Sherman says he saw, and which he 
adds, had been burning at least twelve hours before any sol- 
diers belonging to my army had gotten within the limits of 
the city." Where were these burning bales? In an afiBdavit 
made by General Sherman in 1872 he swears: "Col. Stone's 
brigade were crossed [over the river] on the night of the i6th 
and 17th of February, and were the first troops to enter Co- 
lumbia." This Col. Stone was Brevet Brig. Gen. George A. 
Stone, of Iowa, who in a letter to the Chicago Tribune, which 
was published in January, 1873, testifies that soon after its 
entrance "the entire brigade was distributed through the city," 
and adds: 

"Up to this time no fires occurred in any part of the city 
save those of public buildings and quartermasters' stores, fired 
by the enemy the day before we entered, I think, but which 
fires had not extended and did not extend to any other part of 
the city. The streets in some places contained bales of cotton, 


whicli had been cut open, and these caught fire twice or three 
times during the day, but these fires had been promptly put 
out by some of the firemen, aided by a detail of soldiers under 
charge of an ofi&cer. " 

General Stone was in charge of the whole city, as his com- 
mand was assigned to provost duty, j-et he saw no smouldering 
fires where General Sherman saw thousands! This disposes 
of the cotton theory; but General Stone goes farther and tells 
who did burn the city. He says: 

Col. D. J. Palmer, commanding my regiment, the 75tli 
Iowa, and to whom I had entrusted the charge of the mos^t 
dangerous part of the city, confirmed my opinion that there 
was a plot to burn the city by telling me several fires had 
started in his district; that he haa succeeded in putting them 
out so far, but could not hold out much longer, and that, in 
his opinion, the next one would fire the city. The wind after 
sunset had increased in violence, and about 9 o'clock was blow- 
ing almost a hurricane from Colonel Palmer's district right to- 
wards the heart of the city. All at once fifteen or twenty 
flames, from as many different places along the river shot up^ 
and in ten minutes the fate of Columbia was settled." * * * 
"The next morning it was discovered the guard had been too 
small; and although a square mile of the heart of the city had 
been eaten out, and the men's appetite for revenge satiated, yet 
it was then considered that a division of troops was necessary 
for provost duty." 

In a "Narrative of Military Service," which he published a 
few years ago, Gen. W. B. Hazen says: "I have never doubted 
that Columbia was deliberately set on fire in more than a hun- 
dred places." 

In his "Memoirs," (page 288), General Sherman says: 
"Having utterly ruined Columbia, the right wing began its 
march northwest to Winnsboro on the 20th;" and Winnsboro 
was likewise "utterly ruined" — burnt — the next day. 

* * * * ^ >i< ^ 


Copy of the Letter of Dr, T. J. Goodwyn, Mayor of 
Columbia, to Maj. Gen. Wm. T. Sherman. 

Mayor's Office, 
Columbia, S. C, February 17, 1865. 
To Maj. Gen. Sherman: 

The Confederate forces having evacuated Columbia, I deem 
it my duty, as Mayor and representative of the city, to ask for 
its citizens the treatment accorded by the usages of civilized 

I, therefore, respectfully request that you will give a suffi- 
cient guard, in advance of the army, to maintain order in the 
city, and protect the persons and property of the citizens. 
Very respectfully, 

T. J. GOODWYN, Mayor. 

A public meeting of the citizens of Columbia was called, 
April 22d, 1867, at Carolir.a Hall, at which Hon. E. J. Arthur 
presided. A committee was appointed to collect evidence as 
to the burning of the city on the night of February 17, 1865. 
The names of the committee are as follows: 

Chancellor J. P. Carroll, Chairman, Hon. Wm. F. de Saus- 
sure, Hon. E. J. Arthur, Dr. John Fisher, Dr. Wm. Reynolds, 
Dr. D. H. Trezevant, Dr. A. N. TaHey, Prof. W. J. Rivers, 
Prof. John LeConte, Col J. T. Sloan, Col, E- D. Childs. 

The committee decided to accept only the testimony of those 
who could m.ake sworn aflBdavits as to the events of which they 
were eye-witnesses. As stated in the subjoined Report, more 
than sixty (60) depositions and statements in writing, from as 
many individuals, were placed in the hands of the committee, 

from which the following Report was compiled. 


S. P. C. 


Report of the Committee Appointed to Collect Testi- 
mony in Relation to the Destruction of Colum- 
bia, S. C, on the 17th of February, 1865. 

The committee who were charged with the duty of collecting' 
the evidence in relation to the destruction of Columbia by fire, 
on the 17th of February, 1865, submit the following report: 

By the terms of the resolution appointing them, the com- 
mittee do not feel authorized to deduce any conclusion, or pro- 
nounce any judgment, however warranted by the proof, as to 
the person responsible for the crime. Their task will be accom- 
plished by ]tresenting the evidence that has been obtained, with, 
an abstract of the facts established by it. 

More than sixty depositions and statements in writing, from 
as many individuals, have been placed in the hands of the com- 
mittee. The array of witnesses is impressive, not merely be- 
cause of their number, but for the high-toned and elevated 
character of some of them, the unpretending and sterling prob- 
ity of others, and the general intelligence and worth of all. 
The plain and unvarnished narrative subjoined is taken from 
the testimony referred to, solely and exclusively, except so much 
as refers to certain declarations of General Sherman himself, 
widely circulated through the public press, and to the ravages 
of his army in this State, after their departure from Columbia: 
matters of such notoriety as, in the judgment of the committee^ 
to dispense with the necessity of formal proof. 

The forces of General Sherman's command while in Georgia 
seem to have anticipated that their next march would be 
through South Carolina. Their temper and feeling towards 
our people, a witness, Mrs. L. Catharine Joyner, thus describes: 
"The soldiers were universal in their threats. They seemed 
to gloat over the distress that would accrue from their march 
through the State. I conversed with numbers of all grades, 
belonging to the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps. Such ex- 
pressions as the following were of hourly occurrence : 'Caro- 
lina may well dread us. She brought this war on, and shall 
pay the penalty. You think Georgia has suffered, just wait 
until we get into Carolina; every man, woman and child may 


dread us there.' " Of General Sherman himself, the same wit- 
ness informs us that, addressing himself to a lady of his ac- 
quaintance, he said to her: "Go off the line of railroad, for I 
will not answer for the consequences where the army passes." 

The threats uttered in Georgia were sternly executed by the 
troops of General Sherman upon their entrance into the State. 
For eighty miles along the route of his army, through the most 
highly improved and cultivated region of the State, according 
to the testimony of intelligent and respectable witnesses, the 
habitations of but two white persons remain. As he advanced, 
the villages of Hardeeville, Grahamville, Gillisonville, McPher- 
sonville, Barnwell, Blackville, Midway, Orangeburg and Lex- 
ington were successively devoted to the flames. Indignities 
and outrages were perpetrated upon the persons of the inhabi- 
tants. The implements of agriculture were broken; dwellings, 
barns, mills, gin-houses, were consumed; provisions of every 
description appropriated or destroyed; horses and mules carried 
away; and sheep, cattle and hogs were either taken for actual 
use, or shot down and left behind. The like devastations 
marked the progress ot the invading army from Columbia 
through this State to its Northern frontier, and the towns of 
Winnsboro, Camden and Cheraw suffered from like visitations 
by fire. If a single town or village or hamlet within their line 
of march escaped altogether the torch of the invaders, the com- 
mittee have not been informed of the exception. The line of 
General Sherman's march, from his enlering the territory of 
the State up to Columbia, and from Columbia to the North 
Carolina border, was one continuous track of fire. 

The devastation and ruin thus inflicted were but the execu- 
tion of the policy and plan of General Sherman for the subju- 
gation of the Confederate States. Extracts from his address 
at Salem, Illinois, in July last, have appeared in the public 
prints, and thus he announces and vindicates the policy and 
plan referred to: "We were strung out from Nashville clear 
down to Atlanta. Had I then gone on stringing out our forces, 
what danger would there not have been of their attacking the 
'little head of the column and crushing it. Therefore, I resolved 
in a moment to stop the game of guarding their cities, and to 


destroy their cities. We were determined to produce results, 
and, now, what were those results? To make every man, 
woman and child in the South feel that, if they dared to rebel 
against the flag of their country, they must die or submit." 
The plan of subjugation adopted by General Sherman was fully 
comprehended and approved by his army. His officers and 
men universally justified their acts by declaring that it was 
"the way to put down the rebellion, by burning and destroy- 
ing everything." 

Before the surrender of our town, the soldiers of General 
Sherman, officers and privates, declared that it was to be de- 
stroyed. "It was," deposes a witness, Mrs. Rosa J. Meetze, 
"the common talk among them, at the village of Lexington, 
that Columbia, was to be burned by General Sherman." At 
the same place, on the i6th of February, 865, as deposed to 
by another witness, Mrs. Francis T. Caughman, "the general 
officer in command or his cavalry forces. General Kilpatrick, 
said, in reference to Columbia : 'Sherman will lay it in ashes 
for them.'" "It was the general impression among all the 
prisoners we captured," says a Confederate officer. Captain J. 
P. Austin of the Ninth Kentucky Reg. Cavalry, "that Colum- 
bia was to be destroyed." On the morning of the same day, 
February i6th, 1865, some of the forces of General Sherman 
appeared on the western side of the river, and, without a de- 
mand of surrender, or any previous notice of their purpose, be- 
gan to shell the town, then filled with women, children and 
aged persons, and continued to do so at intervals throughout 
the day. The Confederate forces were withdrawn, and the 
town restored to the control of the municipal authorities, on 
the morning of the 17th of February. Accompanied by three 
of the Aldermen, the Mayor, between eight and nine o'clock 
A. M., proceeded in the direction of Broad river, for the pur- 
pose of surrendering the city to General Sherman. Acting in 
concert with the Mayor, the officer in command of the rear 
guard of the Confederate cavalry. General M. C Butler, for- 
bore from further resistence to the advance of the opposing 
army, and took effectual precautions against anything being 
done which might provoke General Sherman or his troops to 


acts of violence or severity towards the town or its citizens. 
The surrender of Columbia was made by the Mayor and Alder- 
men to the first general officer of the hostile army whom they 
met; and that officer promised protection to the town and its 
inhabitants until communication could be had with General 
Sherman, and the terms of surrender arranged. 

By eleven o'clock A. M. the town was in possession of the 
Federal forces, the first detachment entering being the com- 
mand of the officer who had received the surrender. Thej had 
scarcely marched into the town, however, before they began to 
break into the stores of the merchants, appropriating the con- 
tents or throwing them in the streets and destroying them. As 
other bodies of troops came in, the pillage grew more general, 
and soon the sack of the town was universal. Guards were, 
in general, sent to those of the citizens who applied for them, 
but in numerous instances they proved to be unable or unwill- 
ing to perform the duty assigned them. Scarcely a single 
household or family escaped altogether from being plundered. 
The streets of the town were densely filled with thousands of 
Federal soldiers, drinking, shouting, carousing, and robbing 
the defenceless inhabitants, without reorimand or check from 
their officers; and this state of things continued until night. 
In some instances guards were refused. Papers and property 
of great value were in the vaults of one of the city banks, vv'hile 
the apartments above and in the rear were occupied by women 
and c' ildren with their food and clothing. For a guard to pro- 
tect them, application was made by one of our worthiest and 
most respectable citizens, Edwin J. Scott, Esq., first to the gen- 
eral officer, who had received the surrender of the town, Colonel 
Stone, and then to the Provost Marshal, Major Jenkins. The 
response made to the applicant by the former officer, though 
standing idle in the crowd, was that he "had no time to attend 
to him," and the answer of the latter was, "I cannot under- 
take to protect private property." Between two and three 
o'clock P. M., General Sherman in person rode into Columbia, 
informed the Mayor that his letter had been received, and 
promised protection to the town. Extraordinary license was 
allowed to his soldiers by General Sherman. In the afternoon 


of the 17th of February, r865, and shortly after his arrival in 
Columbia, the Mayor of the town, at the request of General 
Sherman, accompanied him on a visit to a lady of his acquaint- 
ance. While proceeding to her residence, General Sherman 
began to express his opinion very freely upon the subject of 
our institution of slavery. In the midst of his remarks he was 
interrupted by the sudden and near report of a musket. Im- 
mediately before them, in the direction they were going, they 
observed a group of Federal soldiers seeming to be excited, and 
upon approaching they saw a negro lying dead directly in their 
path, being shot through the heart. "General Sherman (the 
Mayor, Dr. T. J. Goodwyn, narrates) asked of the soldiers: 
'How came the negro shot?' And was answered that the negro 
had been guilty of great insolence to them, and that thereupon 
General Sherman remarked: 'Stop this, boys. This is all 
wrong Take away the body and bury it.' General Sher- 
man," continues the Mayor, "then stepped over the body of 
the negro, and observing to the deponent that 'in quiet times 
such a thing ought to be noticed, but in times like this it could 
not be done,' General Sherman resumed his conversation in re- 
lation to slavery, and no arrest was ordered or any censure or 
reprimand uttered by him, except as above stated. About sun- ^ 
down," as the Mayor deposes, "General Sherman said to him: 
'Go home, and rest assured that your city will be as safe in my 
hands as if you had controlled it." He added, that he was 
compelled to burn some of the public buildings, and in so doing 
did not wish to destroy one particle of private property. This 
evening," he said, "was too windy to do anything." An es- 
teemed clergyman, Rev. A. Toomer Porter, testifies that the 
same afternoon, between six and seven o'clock. General Sher- 
man said to him: "You must know a great many ladies — go 
around and tell them to go to bed quietly; they will not be dis- 
turbed any more than if my army was one hundred miles off. 
He seemed oblivious of the fact that we had been pillaged and 
insulted the whole day. In one hour's time the city was in 

Meanwhile the soldiers of General Sherman had burned, that 
afternoon, many houses in the environs of the town, including 


the dwelling of General Hampton, with that of his sisters, 
formerly the residence of their father, and once the seat of 
genial and princely hospitality. Throughout the day, after 
they had marched into the town, the soldiers of General Sher- 
man gave distinct and frequent notice to the citizens of the- 
impending calamit5% usually in the form of fierce and direct' 
threats, but occasionally as if in kindly forewarning. A lady 
of rare worth and intelligence, and of high social position, Mrs. 
I^. S. McCord, relates the following incident: "One of ray 
maids brought me a paper, left, she told me, by a Yankee 
soldier; it was an ill-spelled, but kindly warning of the horrors 
to come, written upon a torn sheet of my dead son's note book, 
which, with private papers of every kind, now strewed my 
yard. It was signed by a Lieutenant — of what company and 
regiment, I did not take note. The writer said he had relatives 
and friends at the South, and that he felt for us; that his heart 
bled to think of what was threatening. Xadies,' he wrote, 'I 
pity you. Leave this town — go anywhere to be safer than 
here.' This was written in the morning, the fires were in the 
evening and night." One of our citizens of great intelligence 
and respectability, William H. Orchard, was visited about 7 
P. M. by a squad of some six or seven soldiers, to whose dep- 
redations he submitted with a composure that seemed to im- 
press their leader. Of his conversation with this person, the 
gentleman referred to testifies as follows: "On leaving the 
yard he called to me, and said he wished to speak to me alone. 
He then said to me in an undertone: 'You seem to be a clever 
sort of a man, and have a large family, so I will give you some 
advice: If you have anything you wish to save, take 

care of it at once, for before morning this d d town 

will be in ashes — every house in it.' My only reply was: 
can that be true? He said, 'yes, and if you do not believe me 
you will be the sufferer; if you watch you will see three rockets 
go up soon, and if you do not take my advice you will see 
h — 11." ' Within an hour afterwards, three rockets were seen 
to ascend from a point in front of the Mayor's dwelling. But 
a few minutes elapsed before fires, in swift succession broke 
out, and at intervals so distant that they could not have been 


communicated from the one to the other. At various parts of 
the town, the soldiers of General Sherman, at the appearance 
of the rockets, declared that they were the appointed signal 
for a general conflagration. The fire companies, with their 
engines, promptly repaired to the scene of the fires, and en- 
deavored to arrest them, but in vain. The soldiers of General 
Sherman, with bayonets and axes, pierced and cut the hose, 
disabled the engines and prevented the citizens from extin- 
guishing the flames. The wind was high and blew from the 
west. The fires spread and advanced with fearful rapidity, and 
soon enveloped the very heart of the town. The pillage began 
upon the entrance of the hostile forces, continued without 
cessation or abatement, and now the town was delivered up to 
the accumulated horrors of sack and conilagration. The in- 
habitants were subjected to personal indignities and outrages. 
A witness, Captain W. B. Stanley, testifies that several times 
during the night, he saw the soldiers of General Sherman take 
from females bundles of clothing and provisions, open them, 
appropriate what they wanted and throw the remainder into 
the flames. Men were violently seized and threatened with 
the halter or the pistol to compel them to disclose where their 
gold or silver was concealed. 

The revered and beloved pastor of one of our churches, Rev. 
P. J. Shand, states that, in the midst and during the progress 
of the appalling calamity, above all other noises, might be 
heard the demoniac and gladsome shouts of the soldiery. 
Driven from his home by the flames, with the aid of a servant 
he was bearing off a trunk containing the communion plate of 
his church, his wife walking by his side, when he was sur- 
rounded by five of the soldiers, who requested him to put down 
the trunk and inform them of its contents — which was done. 
The sequel he thus narrates: "They then demanded the key, 
but, I not having it, they proceeded in efforts to break the 
lock. While four of them were thus engaged, the fifth seized 
me with his left hand by the collar, and, presenting a pistol to 
my breast with his right, he demanded of me my watch. I had 
it not about me, but he searched my pockets thoroughly, and 
then joined his comrades, who, finding it impracticable to force 


open the lock, took up the Lrunk and carried it away. These 
men," he adds, "were all perfectly sober." 

By 3 o'clock A. M., on the night of the 17th of February, 
1865, more than two-thirds of the town lay in ashes, compris- 
ing the most highly improved, and the entire business portion. 
Thousands of the inhabitants, including women delicately 
reared, young children, the aged and the sick, passed that 
winter night in the open air, without shelter from the bitter 
and pierceing blasts. About the hour meiitioued (3 o'clock 
A. M.,) another highly esteemed clergyman. Rev. A. Toomer 
Porter, personally known to General Sherman, was at the 
corner of a street conversing with one of his ofScers on horse- 
back, when General Sherman, in citizen's attire, walked up 
and accosted him. The interview is thus described: "In the 
bright light of the burning city. General Sherman recognized 
me, and remarked: 'This is a horrible sight!' Yes, I re- 
plied, when you reflect that women and children are the vic- 
tims. He said: 'Your Governor is responsible for this.' How 
so? I replied, 'Whoever heard,' he said, "of an evacuated city 
to be left a 'iepot of liquor for an army to occupy? I found one 
hundred and twenty casks of whiskey in one cellar. Your 
Governor, being a law) er or a judge, relu>ed to have it de- 
stroyed, because it was private property, and now my men 
have got drunk and have got beyond my control, and this is 
the result ' Perceiving the ofBcer on horseback, he said: 
'Captain Andrews, did I not order that this thing should be 
stopped.'" 'Yes, General,' said the Captain, 'but the first 
division that came in soon got as drunk as ihe first regiment 
that occupied the town.' 'Then, sir,' said General Sherman, 
'go and bring in Ihe second division. I hold you personally 
responsible for its immediate cessation.' The officer darted 
off, and Sherman bade me good evening. I am sure it was not 
more than an hour and a half from the time that General 
Sherman gave his order that the city was cleared of the de- 
stroj'ers." From that time until the departure of General 
Sherman from Columbia (with perhaps one or two exceptions), 
not another dwelling in it was burned by his soldiers, and, 
during the succeeding days and nights of his occupation, per- 


feet tranquility prevailed throughout the town. The discip- 
line of his troops was perfect, the soldiers standing in great 
awe of their officers. 

That Columbia was burned by the soldiers of General Sher- 
man, that the vast majority of the incendiaries were sober, that 
for hours they were seen with combustibles firing house after 
house, without any affectation of concealment, and without 
the slightest check from their officers, is established by proof, 
full to repletion, and wearisome from its very superfluity. 
After the destruction of the town, his officers and men openly 
approved of its burning, and exulted in it "I saw," deposes 
the Mayor, "very few drunken soldiers that night; many who 
appeared to sympathize with our people told me that the fate 
and doom of Columbia had been common talk around their 
camp-fires ever since they left Savannah." It was said by 
numbers of the soldiers that the order had been given to burn 
down the city. There is strong evidence that such an order 
was actually issued in relation to the house of General John S. 
Preston. The Ursuline Convent was destroyed by fire, and 
the proof referred to comes from a revered and honored mem- 
ber of that holy Sisterhood, the Mother Superior, and it is 
subjoined in her own words: "Our convent was consumed in 
the general conflagration of Columbia. Ourselves and pupils 
were forced to fly, leaving provisions, clothing, and almost 
everything. We spent the night in the open air in the church- 
yard. On the following morning General Sherman made us a 
visit, expressed his regret at the burning of our convent, dis- 
claimed the act, attributing it to the intoxication of his soldiers, 
and told me to choose any house in town for a convent, and it 
should be ours. He deputed his Adjutant- General, Colonel 
Ewing, to act in his stead. Colonel Ewing reminded us of 
General Sherman's offer to give us any house in Columbia we 
might choose for a convent. We have thought of it, said we, 
and of asking for General Preston's house, which is large. 
'That is where General lyOgan holds his headquarters,' said he, 
'and orders have already been given, I know, to burn it to- 
morrow morning; but, if you say you will take it for a convent I 
will speak to the General and the order will be countermanded.' 


On the following morning, after many inquiries, we learned from 
the officer in charge (General Perry, I think,) that his orders 
were to fire it, unless the Sisters were in actual possession of 
it, but, if even a 'detachment of Sisters' were in it, it should 
be spared on their account. Accordingly, we took possession 
of it, although fires were already kindled near, and the ser- 
vants were carrying off the bedding and furniture, in view of 
the house being consigned to the flames." 

Although actual orders for the burning of the town may not 
have been given, the soldiers of General Sherman certainly 
believed that its destruction would not be displeasing to him. 
That such was their impression, we have the authority of a 
personage not less distinguished than the officer of highest 
rank in the army of invaders, next after the Commander-in- 
Chief himself. The proof is beyond impeachment. It comes 
from the honored pastor of one of our city churches, Rev. P. 
J. Shand, to whom reference has already been made, and it is 
thus expressed in his written statement, in the possession of 
the committee: "As well as f recollect in November, 1865, I 
went, in company with a friend, to see General Howard, at 
his headquarters in Charleston, on matters of business. Before 
we left, the conversation turned on the destruction of Colum- 
bia. General Howard expressed his regret at the occurrence, 
and added the following words: 'Though General Sherman 
did not order the burning of the town, yet some how or other, 
the men had taken up the idea that, if they destroyed the 
capital of South Carolina, it would be peculiarly gratifying to 
General Sherman.' These were his words, in the order in 
which I have set them forth. I noted them down as having 
great significancy, and they are as fresh in my remembrance 
as they were immediately after they were spoken. My friend 
(whose recollection accords fully with my own) and myself, on 
our way home, talked the matter over, and could- not but be 
struck by the two following facts: First, that although General 
Howard said that General Sherman did not order the burning, 
he did not state that General Sherman gave orders that the 
city should not be burned. Second, that it was surprising, if 
General Sherman was opposed to the burning, that his oppo- 


sition should have been so disguised as to lead to the convic- 
tion, on the part of his soldiery, that the act, so far from in- 
curring his disapprobation or censure, would be a source to 

him of peculiar gratification." 

-* * * * ^ * * 

Of the suffering and distress of the individual inhabitants, 
some conception may be collected from the experience of one 
of them, Mrs. Agnes I^aw, a lady more venerable for her vir- 
tues even than for her age, whose narrative, almost entire, we 
venture to introduce: ''I ara seventy-two years old," she de- 
poses, "and have lived in this town forty-eight years. My 
dwelling was a brick house, three stories, slate roof, with large 
gardens on two sides. When Columbia was burned, my sister 
was ^vith me, also a niece of mine, recently confined, who had 
not yet ventured out of the house. When General 
took possession, I got four guards; they were well-behaved and 
sober men; I gave them supper. One lay down on the sofa, 
the others walked about. When the city began to burn, I 
wished to remove my furniture ; they objected, and said my 
house was in no danger. Not long afterwards, these guards 
themselves took lighted caudles from the mantel-piece and 
went up stairs; at the same time other soldiers crowded into 
the house. My sister followed them up stairs, but came down 
very soon to say : 'They are setting the curtains on fire.' Soon 
the whole house was in a blaze. When those who set fire up 
stairs came down, they said to me: 'Old woman, if you do not 
mean to burn up with your house, you had better get out of 
it.' My niece had been carried up to the Taylor House, on 
Arsenal Hill. I went to the door, to see if I could get any 
person I knew to assist me up there. I had been very sick. I 
could see no friend, only crowds ot Federal soldiers. I was 
afraid I should fall in the street, and be burned up in the 
flames of the houses, blazing on both sides of the streets. I 
had to go alone I spent that night at the Taylor House, 
which a Federal officer said should not be burned, out of pity 
for my niece. The next two nights I passed in my garden, 
without any shelter. I have been for over fifty years a mem- 
ber of the Presbyterian church. I cannot live long. I shall 


meet General Sherman and his soldiers at the Bar of God, and 
I give this testimony against them, in the full view of that 
dread tribunal." 

The committee have designed, by the preceeding summary 
of the more prominent events and incidents connected with the 
destruction of Columbia, to present only an abstract of the 
numerous depositions and proofs in their possession. The 
proprieties imposed upon them by the very nature of the duties 
to which they have been assigned, have precluded their doing 
more. In the evidence thus collected may be read, in all its 
pathetic and heart-rending details, the story of the tragic fate 
that has befallen our once beautiful city, now in ashes and 

Impressed with the historic value of the proofs referred to, 
and their importance to the cause of truth, and with a view to 
their preservation, the committee respectfully recommend: 
That they be committed to the guardianship of the municipal 
authorities, and be deposited with the archives of the town, 
trusting that, in after and better times, they will yet be found 
effectual, as well to vindicate the innocent as to confound the 

J. P. CARROIvL, Chairman. 


Augusta Sends Aid, ^ 17 

A Fearful Night, = 9 

After the Conflagration, -- . . . 11 

Butler, Gen. M, C, 4 

Banks, Treasu re in, 4 

Beauregard, Gen. G. T., 5 

Boozer, Mrs , 18 

Boozer, Miss Mary, 20 

Brooks, Capt. U. R., 

Extracts from Account of, . 86 

Berry, Milo H., Deposition of, 89 

Bates, Orlando Z., Deposition of, " • 93 

Conflagration Begins, 9 

Conditions After Conflagration, 11 

Convent, Catholic, 

Warned of Destruction 28 

Conyngham's Story of the Destruction of Columbia, 62 

Conrad, August, Letter of 116 

Davidson, James Wood, 

Letter of to New York World, 114 

Feaster, Mrs., 20, 21 

Following the Army, 21 

Fire Begins 30 

Gibbs, James G , 

Letter to Philadelphia Times, 3 

Rescues ladies from Yankee Soldiers 34 

Acts as Mayor of City, 47) 48 

Effort of to Prevent Burning of Gas Works, 80 

Deposition of, 95 

Gibbs. Dr. R W., 

House Burning, . 19 

Glaze, William, Deposition of, 90 

Goodwin, T. J., Mayor, 

Surrenders City, 26 

Howard, Gen. O. O 15 

Version of Origin of Fire 44 

Favors Burning of Gas Works 80 

Deposition of, 99 

Hidden in a Mattress 20 

Huger, Hon. Alfred, 

Letter of, 49 

Hampton, Gen. Wade, 

Command of Department Turned Over to, 5 

Residence Burned by Yankee Soldiers, 7 

Evacuates City, ... 10 

Letter of, 54 

Order of in Regard to Burning of Cotton , 72 

Letter from on Burning of Columbia, 118 

Huger, Hon. Alfred, Deposition of, . . 92 

Jackson, Charles F , Deposition of, 97 

Libraries, Destruction of, 35 

Lee, Gen. R. E., 

Opinion of in Regard to Burning of Columbia by Sherman, . 112 

Law, Mrs. Agnes, Narrative of, 136 

Mother Superior, 

Promised protection by General Sherman, 18 

Myers, Thomas G., 

Letter of 61 

McKenzie, John, Deposition of, 91 

Negroes, Treatment of by Yankee S ildiers, ..,.,. 38 

Nichols, Major, 

Account of Sherman's March Through South Carolina, ... 65 

Slander of Gen. Hampton, 83 

Origin of Fire, 

Gen. Sherman's Versions of, 42,43 

Orchard, Wm. H., Treatment of 131 

Public Property Destroyed, 10 

Protection Against Plunderers, 15 

Pillage of City Begins, 27 

Private Residences Destroyed, No. of, 39 

Porter, Rev. A. Toomer, 47,i33 

Report of Committee Appointed to Collect Testimony in Relation to 

the Burning of Columbia, , 126 

Sill, Dr . F., 

Treatment of by Federal Soldiers 32, 33 

Scott, E. J., 

Es-tracts from Book of, 40 

Stanley, Wm. D., Deposition of, 80 

Sherman, Gen. W. T., 

Opens Fire on Columbia, . 5 

Gives 500 Head of Cattle to Citizens of Columbia, 11 

Gives Old Muskets to Citizens of Columbia, 15 

Letter of to Gen. Wheeler, 85 

Deposition of, 105 

Latest Story Examined. Editorial News and Courier, ... 120 


Stone, Col , 

Receives Surrender of City, 6 

Saved by Stratagem, 7 

Searching for Silver, 14 

Satisfying Meat, 17 

Simms, William Gilmore, 

Account of, 23 

Soldiers, Discipline of, 28 

Soldiers, Conduct of During Fire 30, 3 ^ 

Treasure, Piles of, 4 

Trezevant, Dr. D. H., 

Extracts from Account Written by, . 62 

Tribune, New York, 

Reply to Charge of that Hampton Burned Columbia, .... 123 

Various Incidents, 18 

Witherspoon, Capt., 5 

What Time is it? 12 

Wheeler, Gen. J , 

Letter of to Gen. Howard, 85 

Yates, Rev. William, 

Statement of, 78 

tellers, James P., Address of, 122 



11 1